Mark Ronson - Biography
Turntablist, producer, multi-instrumentalist, burgeoning businessman, and New York socialite Mark Ronson was born in London on September 4, 1975. He remained in England until he relocated with his family to New York at the age of seven. Although Ronson is known for his work in hip-hop and new soul, the multi-talented musician got his start playing in funk-rock bands as a kid. Under the influence of a rock star stepfather (Foreigner’s Mick Jones), Ronson became well-acquainted with any instrument he could get his hands on and became quite comfortable seated at the drums or behind the piano, strumming a guitar or blowing into a saxophone. Ronson could do it all and he could do it from a startlingly young age.
At 17, Ronson stumbled onto hip-hop, which altered his approach to music from that point on. He became so immersed in the genre that he bought his first tape decks as soon as he was able. 1993 was the year that Ronson began DJ-ing in clubs all over downtown New York. He slowly built a level of skill that stretched way beyond that of his peers and he accumulated a lengthy list of helpful contacts. Little by little, celebrities began hiring Ronson for their private parties. By 1997, the 22-year-old Ronson had earned his status as a New York socialite and was selected to be featured in a Tommy Hilfiger ad campaign. In 1999, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs hand-picked Ronson to do the DJ-ing honors at his 29th birthday party.
Having built a name for himself, Ronson was ready to try his hand at producing. After being introduced to European multi-platinum artist Nikka Costa, Ronson was hired to co-produce Costa’s 2001 US debut, Everybody’s Got Their Something (2001 Virgin), on which he also received a few co-writer credits. After handling the bulk of the instrumentation on comedian Jimmy Fallon’s 2002 album, The Bathroom Wall (2002 Dreamworks), Ronson signed a record contract of his own with Elektra. For his album debut, the turntablist began calling in favors from his many contacts and friends. Jamaican dancehall wonder-boy Sean Paul and rapper/actor Mos Def stepped in to represent Ronson’s hip-hop leanings, while rock & roll visionary Jack White and Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo helped him carry out his rock plans. The all-star cast, which also included Costa, Ghostface Killah, and Nate Dogg, worked with Ronson to create his debut full-length, Here Comes the Fuzz (2003 – Elektra), which was released on August 26, 2003.
Despite its impressive celebrity roster, Here Comes the Fuzz was something of a secret in the music community. Without the bouncy “Ooh Wee,” which broke into the Rhythmic Top 40 chart, the album would have gone almost entirely unheard. On the strength of that single, the album reached number 88 on the Billboard 200. As far as critics were concerned, Fuzz seemed to be a harmless, disposable, perfectly fun party album.
The work continued to roll in for Ronson, who helped pioneer a neo-soul craze through his production work with Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen. He was also given production credit on songs by Christina Aguilera, Macy Gray, and Robbie Williams. Justin Timberlake hired him as a regular DJ at his club, Suede. With all of Ronson’s success came an inevitable backlash. Ronson, who had held onto some form of indie credibility in the early stages of his career, was beginning to cultivate a “celebrity DJ” image. This did little to affect Ronson, however, and he started up his own record label, Allido Records, in 2004.
For his second album, Ronson called in just as many guests as before, but this time he vowed to make the tracks themselves more important than the celebrities who happen to be singing on them. He was joined in the studio by Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse, Phantom Planet, Daniel Merriweather, Santogold, and Robbie Williams among others. One look at the list of guests is evidence that Ronson would be steering away from hip-hop this time out. Indeed, nearly all of the samples featured on the album are borrowed from Brit-pop hits. He remixed Radiohead’s “Just,” The Charlatans’ “The Only One I Know,” and Coldplay’s “God Put a Smile Upon Your Face.” On April 16, 2007, Version (2007 Columbia) was released in the UK, where it entered the charts at number two. Three months later, it washed up on American shores as well. The most obvious reason for the UK success was the album’s biggest single, “Stop Me,” a remix of The Smiths “Stop Me if You Think You’ve Heard This One Before.” In the US, Ronson was less appreciated. Although “Stop Me” did well on the dance charts, Version stalled out on the Billboard 200 at 129.
Later that year at the Grammy Awards, Ronson took a statue home for Producer of the Year for his work on Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black. Since then, Ronson has toured extensively in support of his album, popping up several times on the festival circuit. He has many plans for future projects, including rumors of producing albums by Duran Duran and Elton John. In 2010 Ronson released his third LP, titled Record Collection. In 2011 Ronson married French actress and singer Josephine de la Baume.