Born Peter Hernandez in Honolulu, Hawaii, Mars kicked off his career at the age of four by fronting his uncle's band, becoming Oahu's youngest Elvis
impersonator in the process. Ten years later, he was impersonating the King of Pop, Michael Jackson
, as part of the Legends in Concert show. After graduating high school in 2003, he took his uncle's advice and moved to California to pursue a music career. He eventually met songwriter Phillip Lawrence, who convinced Mars to try his hand at writing songs for other artists. The two dubbed themselves the Smeezingtons and co-wrote Brandy
's "Long Distance." The duo scored their first number one hit in 2009, when they co-authored Flo Rida
's international smash "Right Round."
By 2010, Mars seemed to be everywhere: singing alongside B.o.B
on the chart-topping "Nothin' on You," co-writing "Billionaire," and collaborating with Cee Lo Green
on the Grammy-nominated hit "F*ck You!" He also began issuing his own material, starting with the May 2010 release of his first EP, It's Better If You Don't Understand. Doo-Wops & Hooligans, his full-length debut, appeared later that year and quickly produced a number one single, "Just the Way You Are." He hit number one again with "Grenade" and remained in the Top Four with "The Lazy Song" and "It Will Rain." In 2012, Mars both hosted and performed as a musical guest on Saturday Night Live, debuting tracks from his upcoming album.
That album, the genre-jumping effort Unorthodox Jukebox, was released later in the year and featured the chart-topping single "Locked Out of Heaven," along with production from Mark Ronson
, and others. "Locked Out of Heaven" topped the Hot 100, and the album reached number two in the U.S. The second single, "When I Was Your Man," also hit number one. All that success made Mars a natural for one of the world's most prestigious gigs, the half-time show for Super Bowl XLVIII, where he performed with Red Hot Chili Peppers
. Unorthodox Jukebox later won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album.
The following year, Mars fronted Mark Ronson
's "Uptown Funk," a song he co-wrote that was among the most popular singles of that year. It topped charts around the globe (becoming Mars' sixth number one) and took home several Grammy Awards, including Record of the Year. In 2016, Mars returned with another funk-flavored hit, "24K Magic," and its parent album of the same title. Influenced by soul, funk, and '90s R&B, 24K Magic peaked at number two on the Billboard 200 and produced Mars' seventh chart-topper, "That's What I Like," as well as "Versace on the Floor," which was remixed by David Guetta
. ~ David Jeffries & Andrew Leahey, Rovi