A Big Fan Of Elvis — And Bruno Mars

Chatting recently with Pete Hernandez about his famous son | Photo from Hawaii News Now

Chatting recently with Pete Hernandez about his famous son | Photo from Hawaii News Now

I’m totally going to date myself with this confession, but my first concert (and crush) was Elvis Presley.

Yes, I saw the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll shake his stuff on stage in 1976 in Atlanta, Ga. Granted, he was past his prime. I was only 3 at the time and unaware of the underwear women were throwing his way.

But I still feel lucky – and spoiled, in a sense – that my first concert experience was watching one of the best entertainers in history.

Elvis has been on my mind quite a bit since Bruno Mars’ sold-out homecoming shows at Blaisdell Arena. Clearly, Elvis played a huge role in Bruno’s red-hot career.

After all, Bruno got his start playing Waikiki showrooms as the world’s youngest Elvis impersonator. Hawaii’s “Little Elvis” even made a short cameo in the movie Honeymoon in Vegas – and, I’m told, he’s the youngest person to appear on the MidWeek cover. A scene-stealer then and now.

It would seem obvious that the talented toddler who stole the show as Elvis would grow into a superstar in his own right. But Bruno Mars’ climb up the charts certainly did not happen overnight.

I had the opportunity to sit down for coffee with Bruno’s proud papa, Peter Hernandez, to talk about his son’s success and share our Elvis connection.

Hernandez used to run an Elvis museum in Waikiki. Not a stretch, considering he left his home in New York, drawn to the Islands by the paradise depicted in the Elvis classic Blue Hawaii.

Hernandez drove Cadillacs like his idol and compiled an impressive collection. He owned every Elvis album and videotape, and his son studied them religiously. As Hernandez described, “At barely 3 years old, Bruno knew how to rewind and cue up videotapes.” He’d catch his son late at night, working on the King’s moves until he mastered them. He would beg his dad to stay up, saying, “Just one more minute. I’ve almost got it.”

As Bruno grew up, he moved on to the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. Hernandez describes his son’s talent and tenacity this way: “Whatever he tried musically, whatever the challenge, he could just perfect it to a tee.”

I’ve always enjoyed his music. Another confession: I was belting out Locked Out Of Heaven in my car the other day, and my son busted me. He said, “Mommy, no dancing and driving!”

It’s refreshing to see a true artist rise to the top. Bruno Mars’ Super Bowl halftime performance showed the world what Waikiki audiences recognized two decades ago.

Hopefully, decades from now, fans will recall fondly seeing Bruno in concert. That is, if they were able to get tickets.