Party people from Ibiza’s trendy clubs and devotees of fashion week’s most exclusive gatherings know him as one of the most famous dj’s that ever blessed a turntable, hip hop heads mostly remember him for his infectious jam “oh wee” featuring the late Nate Dogg and Wu Tang member Ghostface Killah, retrosoul nostalgics praise him as the man who got the best out of Amy Winehouse’s impressive talent by forging the most successful song the troubled diva ever recorded during her short but intense career: “rehab”, while indie rock enthusiasts might recognize him as the producer of Kaiser Chiefs‘ third daring album “Off With Their Heads”. But, at the end of it all, who is the music tastemaker and fashion trendsetter named Mark Ronson?
His father’s family is pretty wealthy considering that his uncle is the founder of british property development group, Heron. When his parents divorced his mother, Ann Dexter, got soon re-married with Mick Jones, guitarist of rock band Foreigner, and Mark relocated to New York with his twin sisters, Charlotte and Samantha. Moving from London to the big apple, he went from being neighbour with the McCartney’s to live just few doors away from the Lennon’s, from being taught how to play drums by The Who’s drummer Keith Moon to Andy Warhol looking at his childhood sketches. His teenage years resemble an episode of “Gossip Girl”: expensive preppy school and lavish parties with a well-mingled group of celebrities’ offspring turned IT Girls such as Ivanka Trump, Alexandra Von Furstenberg, Liv Tyler and Drena De Niro. The life and style of the Ronson’s could be described as the Kennedy’s meet the Tennenbaum’s.
In 1993, while attending NYU, Mark Ronson started spinning records at grimy hip hop venues like Rebar and Den of Thieves, where despite being a white boy, he knew how to play that funky music mixing it with rock/punk tracks from Clash and AC/DC. After being booked by Jennifer Lopez for djing at Puff Daddy’s notoriously successful 29th-birthday bash of 1998, his career took off to the point where he was handed a cameo in 2001’s movie Zoolander. Around that time Mark was chosen by Tommy Hilfiger as one of the new faces of his Tommy Jeans line with Aaliyah and fellow celebrity offspring Kate Hudson, Ethan Browne and Kidada Jones. Being a hip hop fanatic, at that time, the Beastie Boys were his style icons, as he said: “They were my template. They brought back the Pumas with the fat laces and I’d wear them with jeans and a hoodie”. In 2003 he released his first record, “Here’s Come the Fuzz”, whose tracklist perfectly reflected his djing skills of blending together hip-hop and rock by hosting both the rhymes of Ghostface Killah and the guitar of Jack White on the same album.
Right after his debut record, Mark decided to slow down his dj career to become a producer. That’s when, around 2005, he met Lily Allen, who introduced herself by pinning a badge through his brand-new leather Dior jacket at infamous hip hop night at YOYO club in London, and above all Amy Winehouse for whom he produced half of “Back To Black” iconic album. Thanks to the huge success of his productions, Mark Ronson decided to record a new album. In 2007 “Version” comes out. Heavily influenced by the 60’s soul music and the retrò sound that inspired gems like “love is a losing game” and “you know I’m no good”, the new project is a collection of covers of songs by the likes of Radiohead, Maxïmo Park, The Smiths, The Zutons and Kaiser Chiefs reinterpreted by Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen, Daniel Merriweather with a soulful alternative twist. Even his style got affected by the elegant old school flavour of his music, so he started wearing suits and dressing up sharply as his own style icons from the 60’s such as actors Alain Delon in “Le Samourai” and Jean-Paul Belmondo in “Breathless”.
After winning a grammy as producer of the year in 2008 and being voted best dressed man of the year by GQ Magazine in 2009, we can say at ease that Mark Ronson proved to be a well-established music tastemaker and fashion icon. In case we need more proofs we can add that he is one of the few artists who got a deal with Gucci to develop his own signature shoes and, more recently, he was picked up by Fendi as the new face of its latest men’s fragrance. On the musical side his third album from 2010, “Record Collection”, pushed his musical boundaries as a producer over the dearest 60’s, embracing the experimenting sound of the 70’s and mixing it with the voice 80’s legends such as Boy George and Simon Le Bon.