Mark Daniel Ronson (born 4 September 1975) is an English musician, DJ, singer, songwriter, and record producer. Although his debut album Here Comes the Fuzz (2003) failed to make an impact on the charts, his second album Version (2007) reached number two in the UK and included three top 10 singles. This earned him a Brit Award for Best British Male Solo Artist in 2008. His third studio album, Record Collection, was released on 27 September 2010, peaking at number two in the UK.
In 2014, Ronson achieved his first UK and US number one single with "Uptown Funk," which featured vocals from Bruno Mars. The song earned Ronson the 2015 Brit Award for British Single of the Year, and the 2016 Grammy Award for Record of the Year and Grammy Award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. His fourth studio album, Uptown Special, was released in January 2015, and became his first UK number one album and also peaked at number 5 in the US.
Ronson produced "Cold Shoulder" on Adele's first album, 19. He received acclaim for producing Amy Winehouse's album Back to Black, for which he won the Grammy Awards for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical, Best Pop Vocal Album and Record of the Year for the single "Rehab". He has won Record of the Year twice, in 2008 as a producer and in 2016 as a performing artist. One of the most successful musicians in contemporary British popular culture, Ronson appeared on Debrett's 2017 list of the most influential people in Britain.
Ronson was born at the Wellington Hospital, St John's Wood, London, to Jewish parents, Laurence Ronson, a real-estate speculator and music manager, and Ann Dexter. His ancestors emigrated from Austria, Russia, and Lithuania. Ronson was brought up in Masorti Judaism and had a Bar Mitzvah ceremony. The Ronson family had been one of Britain's wealthiest families in the 1980s; however, "the Ronson family lost $1 billion of its own money in the property crash of the early 1990's."
The family name was originally "Aaronson", and was shortened by Mark's grandfather Henry. He is the nephew of businessman Gerald Ronson. Through his mother, he is also related to British Conservative politicians Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Leon Lord Brittan, as well as Odeon Cinemas founder Oscar Deutsch. He is not related to the late English guitarist Mick Ronson, who coincidentally fathered a son named Mark in 1975.
After his parents divorced, his mother married Foreigner guitarist Mick Jones, which contributed to a childhood surrounded by music. Ronson has twin sisters who are two years younger: Charlotte Ronson, a fashion designer; and Samantha Ronson, a singer and DJ. He has five younger half-siblings: Alexander and Annabelle, from his mother's marriage to Mick Jones; and Henrietta, David, and Joshua, from his father's marriage to model Michele First.
Ronson, along with his mother, step-father and twin sisters, moved to New York City when he was eight years of age. Living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, he counted Sean Lennon, son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, among his childhood friends. Ronson attended high school at the private Collegiate School in Manhattan before attending Vassar College and then New York University (NYU).
While attending New York University (NYU), Ronson became a regular at downtown hip hop spots and made his name as a DJ on the New York club scene in 1993, charging $50 per job. He soon became known for his diverse, genre-spanning selection. Influenced by funk, the hip hop scene of New York and the more rock influence of the UK (all of which he incorporated in his sets) he attracted a wider audience. He was soon a popular and sought after DJ in New York City, frequently booked for high-profile events and private parties. In 1999, Ronson was featured in an ad wearing Tommy Hilfiger denim in the recording studio for an ad campaign for the company.
Mark made the leap from DJ to producer after Nikka Costa's manager heard one of his sets and introduced the musicians. Ronson produced Costa's song "Everybody Got Their Something," and Ronson soon signed a record contract with Elektra Records. He had already produced tracks for Hilfiger ads and, in 2001, used the connection to have Costa's single "Like a Feather" used in an advertisement.
Ronson's debut album, Here Comes the Fuzz, was released in 2003. Despite poor initial sales it was well received by critics. As well as writing the songs on the album, Ronson created the beats, played guitar, keyboards, and bass. The album featured performances from artists from diverse genres, including Mos Def, Jack White, Sean Paul, Nikka Costa, Nappy Roots and Rivers Cuomo. The best known song from the album, "Ooh Wee," samples "Sunny" by Boney M and features Nate Dogg, Ghostface Killah, Trife Da God, and Saigon. It was featured that year in the movie Honey and its soundtrack. The song was later used in the movies Hitch and Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay. Two weeks after releasing Here Comes the Fuzz, Elektra Records dropped him. Ronson has since produced multiple songs on the albums of singers Lamya, Macy Gray, Christina Aguilera, Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen, and Robbie Williams.
In 2004, Ronson formed his own record label, Allido Records, a subsidiary of Sony BMG's J Records, along with his longtime manager Rich Kleiman. The first artist he signed to Allido was rapper Saigon, who later left to sign with Just Blaze's Fort Knox Entertainment. He has signed Rhymefest, most well known for winning the Grammy for co-writing Kanye West's "Jesus Walks."
On 2 April 2007, Ronson released a cover of The Smiths' track "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before" under the title "Stop Me", featuring singer Daniel Merriweather. It reached number 2 in the UK singles charts, giving Ronson his highest-preaking single until 2014's "Uptown Funk". Ronson remixed the Bob Dylan song "Most Likely You Go Your Way And I'll Go Mine" in promotion for the three disc Bob Dylan set titled Dylan released October 2007. Ronson has also produced Candie Payne's "One More Chance (Ronson mix)" in 2007.
The album Version was well received by critics particularly in the UK and US. In May 2007 it was awarded the title Album of the Month by the British dance music magazine, Mixmag. On 23 June, Ronson made the cover of the Guardian newspaper's Guide magazine, alongside singer Lily Allen.
In June 2007, Ronson signed DC hip hop artist Wale to Allido Records. In late 2007, he focused on production, working with Daniel Merriweather on his debut album, and recording again with Amy Winehouse and Robbie Williams.
On 24 October 2007, Ronson performed a one-off set at The Roundhouse in Camden, London as part of the BBC Electric Proms 2007. The performance featured the BBC Concert Orchestra and included special guests Terry Hall, Sean Lennon, Tim Burgess, Alex Greenwald, Ricky Wilson, Charlie Waller, Adele and Kyle Falconer.
In December 2007, Ronson received his first Grammy Award nomination, for 'Producer of the Year, Non Classical'. Ronson's work with Amy Winehouse also received substantial accolades, gaining 6 nominations. Winehouse's "Back to Black" album, mostly produced by Ronson, was nominated for 'Album of the Year' and 'Best Pop Vocal Album'. Her song "Rehab" received nods for 'Best Female Pop Vocal Performance', 'Song of the Year' and 'Record of the Year'. Ronson would go on to win three Grammys: 'Producer of the Year' as well as 'Best Pop Vocal Album' and 'Record of the Year' (the latter two of which he shared with Amy Winehouse) in early February 2008.
Ronson is credited as producer on a mixtape album called Man in the Mirror, released in January 2008 by the rapper Rhymefest which is a tribute to the pop star Michael Jackson. The album features Rhymefest appearing to speak to Michael Jackson using archive audio from interviews with the pop star. The same month Ronson received three nominations for the Brit Awards, including 'Best Male Solo Artist,' 'Best Album' (Version) and 'Song of the Year' ("Valerie"). Ronson won his first Brit for 'Best Male Solo Artist' in mid February 2008 over favourite Mika. He also performed a medley of "God Put a Smile upon Your Face" with Adele, "Stop Me" with Daniel Merriweather and "Valerie" with Amy Winehouse.
The performance allowed for a large boost in sales in the iTunes UK Top 100. "Valerie" would jump almost 30 spots in the days after the event, while "Just", "Stop Me" and "Oh My God" all appeared in the chart as well. That same week, Ronson appeared twice in the UK Top 40, with "Valerie" rebounding to number 13 and "Just" at number 31, his fourth Top 40 entry from "Version". The Brits performance also allowed for "Version" to climb 18 spots to number 4.
Around this time, Ronson received his first number one on an international chart (Dutch Top 40) for "Valerie," which spent four consecutive weeks at the top of the chart. He collaborated with Kaiser Chiefs on their third album.
Ronson toured the album "Version" extensively through both the UK and Europe during 2008. Notable sold out performances at The Hammersmith Apollo and Brixton Academy. Ronson is known to champion new upcoming artists on the road with him, such as Sam Sparro and Julian Perretta. Ronson's string backing was provided by the all-female string quartet Demon Strings. In May 2008, Ronson played at the largest private party in the world, the Trinity Ball in Trinity College Dublin. On 2 July 2008 in Paris, Mark Ronson performed live with Duran Duran for an invited audience. They played new arrangements by Ronson of some Duran Duran songs, along with tracks from the band's new album, Red Carpet Massacre. Ronson & the Version Players also performed songs from his album Version. Simon LeBon sang. As of March 2009 Ronson was working with the group on their 13th album. The Album, titled All You Need Is Now, was released digitally exclusively via Apple's iTunes on 21 December 2010, while the physical CD was released in March 2011 with additional tracks. In 2013–14 Ronson was once again in the studio producing Duran Duran's 14th album, Paper Gods, making it the first time the band have worked with the same producer on consecutive albums since Colin Thurston produced their first two albums in the 1980s.
In the Spring of 2010, Ronson confirmed the name of his new album Record Collection, and said that he hoped to have it out by September 2010. Additionally, Ronson announced the name of his new band, "The Business Intl.'", which is the alias adopted by Ronson on the third studio album. The first single "Bang Bang Bang". which featured rapper Q-Tip and singer MNDR was released on 12 July 2010, where it peaked at number 6 on the UK Singles Chart, giving Ronson his fourth Top 10 single. The single also entered the Irish Singles Chart, where it peaked at number 18. The second single from the album, "The Bike Song", was 19 September 2010 and features Kyle Falconer from The View and Spank Rock. The album was released on 27 September 2010. This is the first Ronson albums on which he features as a singer.
Although Ronson had never met Michael Jackson he was given the vocal track to a song titled "Lovely Way", sung by Michael Jackson, in 2010 to produce for Jackson's posthumous album Michael. He submitted the track, but it did not make the track listing for Michael. Ronson said about the rumours surrounding the vocals on the track (due to the controversy surrounding the Cascio tracks on that same album), "It was definitely him singing. I was given a vocal track to work with but I never actually met Michael. [...] It's in the vein of Elton John's 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road' and John Lennon's 'Imagine'."
He provided the score for the 2011 film Arthur. Ronson was one of the artists featured in the 2012 documentary Re:GENERATION Music Project. His song "A La Modeliste" features Mos Def, Erykah Badu, Trombone Shorty, members of The Dap-Kings, and Zigaboo Modeliste.
On 30 October 2014, Ronson announced, via Twitter, a new single from his upcoming album, to be released on 10 November 2014. The single, "Uptown Funk," features Bruno Mars on vocals. On 22 November 2014, Ronson and Mars appeared as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live performing "Uptown Funk" and "Feel Right" (featuring Mystikal). "Uptown Funk" reached number one in the UK and US singles charts, and also became the all-time most streamed track in a single week in the UK, having been streamed a record 2.49 million times in a week. "Uptown Funk" reached the top 10 in nearly every country it charted; it spent fifteen weeks at number one on the Canadian Hot 100, fourteen weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and seven weeks at number one on the UK Singles Chart. In February 2015 the song won Ronson the Brit Award for British Single of the Year. As of April 4, 2018, the song's music video on YouTube has amassed over 3 billion views.
In 2015, Ronson starred in the documentary film Amy about his late friend Amy Winehouse. His voice features in the film where he talks about his career and relationship with Winehouse and there is footage of Ronson from the recording session of the single "Back to Black" from March 2006 and also at Winehouse's funeral in London in July 2011. On 16 October 2015, Ronson became a patron of the Amy Winehouse Foundation. In January 2016, Ronson was nominated for two Brit Awards; Best British Male Solo Artist, and British Producer of the Year, at the 2016 Brit Awards.
At the 2016 Grammy Awards Ronson won two awards for "Uptown Funk", including Record Of The Year. Jason Iley, the head of Sony Music UK and Ronson's UK label Columbia Records, hailed Ronson as "a true gentleman" and "one of the most considerate, kind and humble artists in our industry." He added "the monumental success of Uptown Funk is so thoroughly deserved, and has established itself as, not only one of the Records Of The Year, but of our lifetime."
In 2002, Ronson began dating actress-singer Rashida Jones. They became engaged in March 2003, with Ronson proposing by creating a crossword puzzle with the message "Will you marry me." Their relationship ended approximately one year later.
Ronson married French actress and singer Joséphine de La Baume, who had previously appeared in the music video for "The Bike Song." They married in Aix-en-Provence, in the South of France, on 3 September 2011. On 16 May 2017, it was reported that de La Baume had filed for divorce from Ronson, listing the separation date as 21 April 2017.
In 2009 he participated in PETA's "Please Don't Wear Any Fur" campaign. In 2009 Ronson was voted the most stylish man in the UK by GQ magazine. In 2015 he was named one of the magazine's 50 best dressed British men.
In 2011, a portrait of Ronson was painted by British artist Joe Simpson; the painting was exhibited around the UK, including a solo exhibition at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Ronson divides his time between London and New York. Since childhood, he has been a fan of English Premier League football club Chelsea F.C., and has also been a fan of the New York Knicks basketball team.
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|Saturday Night Live musical guest
(with Bruno Mars)
November 22, 2014