Written by Emilee Lindner • March 20, 2017
Bruno Mars has been on a steady winning streak for the almost a decade, and the Grammy winner has a super supportive crew behind him that surrounds his "It factor" with charisma of its own. The Hooligans are not only a band; they're back-up singers and dancers. The multi-faceteed entertainers bring a spark to every stage they grace and give Mars' act the funkiness that some only dream of.
The Hooligans were formed in 2010, just when Bruno was blowing up. Since then, they've gone on to star in the incredibly catchy "Uptown Funk" video —you know, the one with all the swag? — and play the 2014 Super Bowl and the 2017 Grammys, among many, many other gigs. Right now, the Hooligans are gearing up for Bruno's 24K Magic World Tour. (And before you forget, secure your tickets to the tour now.)
Before you see them on the road, get to know the Hooligans a bit more.
A Memphis native, Kameron Whalum III studied trombone and got gigs performing with the House of Funk marching band and singing in Glee Club. It was right after he appeared with Jessie J on Saturday Night Live when Bruno scooped him up.
You might know Artis from when he won P. Diddy's MTV Making His Band in 2009. But you most likely know him for throwing down those good-ass bass lines in anything from "Locked Out Of Heaven" to "That's What I Like."
If the name looks familar, it's because he shares it with his brother, Peter Hernandez, a.k.a. Bruno Mars. That's right. Eric Hernandez would play around Los Angeles in a cover band with his brother and producer Jeff Bhasker. At the time, he was a session and touring drummer for Louie Says, but now he's full-time dedicated to the Hooligans.
Bruno Mars' phabulous guitar player, Phred, provides a ton of oomph onstage, but it was his soulful balladery that got him the Hooligans job. "One of the bands I was in here in L.A. was named Kenji Chan," Brown told Fender.com. We were talking one day, and he had just met Bruno, who was looking for musicians for his band. I sent a video of me at a keyboard singing 'Bring It on Home to Me' by Sam Cooke. Maybe a week and a half later we were in rehearsals, and then it was a year and a half of touring."
Rochester, NY, native John Fossitt has played with Amerie, Travie McCoy, Jason Derulo, Jodeci, Faith Evans and more. The Travie McCoy gig might've been the one to introduce him to Bruno, since Mars and McCoy used to team up a few years ago.
A dedicated trumpet player, James King got picked for Mars' band through Kameron Whalum III. He credits his work with Mars for pushing him to hone in on his musicianship. "It wasn’t until I was able to do things at the level Bruno was able to, that I said 'I wanna start putting my thoughts and my vision not only into fruition, but onto a record,'" he told DNSR. "That is when I really started looking at myself as an artist. That’s when James turned into Jimmy."
Dwayne Dugger, who went to school with James King at Georgia State University, serves up the saxiness in the band. According to an interview with his alumni mag, being in the band sounds like a blast: “Bruno Mars is not like other artists who disassociate themselves from their band whenever possible. He’s down to earth and accessible. He treats us as if we are his blood brothers. The chemistry is evident via our mutual respect for one another and the desire to present quality music.”
You know him — the guy with the glasses! Philip Lawrence is Bruno's right-hand man, working on early hits like "Just The Way You Are" and "Grenade," co-producing everything on the way to today's superstardom, including the mega-collaboration, "Uptown Funk." Along with being a producer for artists like Flo Rida and Cee Lo, he has his own multi-media entertainment company, PHILMAR.
(photo by JB Lacroix/Getty Images)
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