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. After months of frustration, he 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 “Long Distance,” which was recorded in 2008 by R&B singer Brandy. More offers arrived after that, and Mars and Lawrence 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 Travie McCoy's “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, Mars' full-length debut, appeared later that year and quickly produced a number one single, "Just the Way You Are." In 2012, Mars both hosted and performed as a musical guest on Saturday Night Live, debuting tracks from his upcoming album Unorthodox Jukebox. The genre-jumping effort was released that same year, and featured the lead-off single "Locked Out of Heaven," along with production from Mark Ronson, Diplo, and others.