Bruno Mars, set to rock MGM Grand, has many a Vegas connection

Bruno Mars wasn’t born in Vegas.

But in a way, he was born of Vegas.

Granted, the pop-R&B hitmaker may have grown up in Hawaii, but he has plenty of ties to this town.

With Mars headlining the MGM Grand Garden arena this weekend, let’s take a closer look at but a few of Mars’ connections to Sin City.

He paid tribute to The King ... as a toddler

Aside from nightclubs that you couldn’t get into unless you had incriminating photos of the doorman attempting to seduce a barnyard animal, weeping tourists who gambled away all the money they had saved up for junior’s leg braces and the cologne of shame attached to anyone who entered the Glitter Gulch on purpose, nothing says Las Vegas quite like Elvis, right?

Even all these years after his death, he’s still Sin City’s leading totem, the avatar of excess, whose mere image says, “Yeah, you know what? I will have another sandwich.”

None of The King’s glory is lost on Bruno Mars.

One of his uncles was an Elvis impersonator, and at the tender age of 4, Mars followed suit.

Check out clips of the 1990 British documentary “Viva Elvis” on YouTube, and you can see a young Mars, lip curled, rocking a rhinestone encrusted white bodysuit, paying tribute to The King en route to becoming pop royalty himself.

He carries on Little Anthony’s legacy

Mars isn’t just a student of pop music history, he’s a teacher’s pet, a brown-nosed apple polisher, the kind of kid who makes lesser classmates jealous.

Seriously, Chris Brown is probably trying to figure out a way to shove the guy into a locker at this very moment.

Mars titled his first record “Doo-Wops & Hooligans” for a reason: The album owed as much to R&B’s past as it did to its present.

Live, Mars takes things a step further, dressing like an old-school soul man while flashing a smile as outsized as his pompadour.

Clearly, Mars is indebted to one of Vegas’ living legends, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Jerome “Little Anthony” Gourdine, best known as the namesake of doo-wop forebears Little Anthony and the Imperials.

Both a musical and stylistic influence, Gourdine has passed the torch to Mars, who has since set the charts ablaze with the thing.

He’s down with Flo Rida

As a singer, songwriter and producer, Mars has sold more than 100 million singles. And it pretty much all began with a former UNLV international business management student who later become a rapper named after the state that gave us the hanging chad, “Cocaine Cowboys,” the world’s greatest police blotter fodder and the ice cream hamburger. (Seriously. Look it up.)

This would be Tramar Dillard, better known as Flo Rida.

It was Mr. Rida’s 2009 smash “Right Round,” which Mars wrote, that proved to be the latter’s breakout hit, eventually paving the way for a record deal of his own.

The song would become a gentlemen’s club anthem, as synonymous with strippers as the obvious shortcomings of their fathers.

He’s collaborated with ‘Loberace’

Once upon a time, Gary Spivey’s hair dome and that 6-pound burrito that used to clog digestive tracts at the Sahara met, fell in love and had a baby.

In honor of the forehead-slapping ridiculousness of its heritage, that baby grew into a symbol of all the ostentation, kitsch and knowing preposterousness that this city so proudly stands for, a living, breathing means of testing understatement’s gag reflex. This is the true-life tale of how CeeLo Green’s “Loberace” show was born.

The road to CeeLo’s Vegas residency was paved in part by one of his biggest hits, “F!@# You,” which helped establish him as a star solo act.

Green wrote the song with Bruno Mars, among others, and then returned the favor by guesting on Mars’ “The Other Side.”

And that was how the war on subtlety was won.

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476.