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Before They Were Famous: Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars
Jason Merritt, Getty Images

Bruno Mars is a gifted singer-songwriter and the crooner has an undeniably natural stage presence, so it should really be no surprise that he comes from a musical family, growing up as a performer and an avid listener of a wide variety of genres.

Mars was born (his birth name is Peter Gene Hernandez) on Oct. 8, 1985 and was raised in the Waikiki area of Honolulu, Hawaii. His parents met through the entertainment industry, with his mother, Bernie, taking the stage as a hula dancer and his dad, Peter, performing as a drummer for the accompanying band.

Mars’ ethnicity is a mix of Filipino (maternal side) and Puerto Rican descent (paternal), and his father dubbed him “Bruno” as a baby since he was chubby and reminded his dad of wrestler Bruno Sammartino. The singer’s adorableness would come in handy when he joined his family’s band and later on, while performing as a young Elvis Presley impersonators. He even had a cameo in the 1992 film ‘Honeymoon in Vegas’ as “Little Elvis,” and at the age of 4, he was featured in a U.K. documentary entitled ‘Viva Elvis’ (you can watch a clip below).

After graduating form high school, Mars moved to Los Angeles to pursue music professionally, adding the “Mars” to his “Bruno” nickname to create a stage name that he said was “out of this world.” In 2004, Mars scored a deal with Motown Records, but he parted ways from the label shortly thereafter. However, his time at Motown was not wasted, since he met his songwriting partner/producer/close friend Phillip Lawrence while at the label. Later on, with engineer Ari Levine also on board, the trio became known as the Smeezingtons.

Lawrence also helped Mars sign a deal with Atlantic Records, although it took around three years for the record deal to come to fruition. After gaining some attention for his songwriting credits for other artists (Flo Rida, Adam Levine, Sean Kingston and many more), Mars was finally able to break out as a solo artist thanks to his featured vocals on songs like B.o.B’s ‘Nothin’ on You’ and Travie McCoy’s radio hit ‘Billionaire.’ Now, he’s a Grammy-winning recording artist with four Top 10 hits to his name.

Next: Katy Perry Before She Was Famous

Watch 4-Year-Old Bruno Mars in ‘Viva Elvis’

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