“There’s this funny English website called Jewtastic,” Mark Ronson said back in 2007. “They write about all these new heroes, like Sacha Baron Cohen and Amy Winehouse and people like that. And when I was working with Amy on her record, I kind of got upset that I wasn’t in there — I was like, ‘Don’t they know?’” Unfortunately, Jewtastic is now defunct, but we’re here now, Mark!
Just to make sure everybody knows: Mark Ronson is a Jewish musician, and we’re obsessed with him. Let’s dive into 18 things to know about the London-born, NYC-raised hitmaker:
1. Mark Ronson was born to a Jewish family in Notting Hill, London. He has two sisters, Charlotte and Samantha. Here they are as kids:
2. “My family was into their religion and Judaism. It’s funny because Conservative Judaism here is much stricter here than it is in America, so we were not quite Orthodox, but we observe the Sabbath, High Holy Days, that kind of thing,” Ronson explained. “Then moved to New York when I was eight, so obviously things were a little bit more relaxed, I don’t know why. Now I’m not religious in a complete strict observant type of way, but as far as believing in the main tenets of the religion, things like that, I am — obviously fast on Yom Kippur, that kind of thing. It’s important to me.”
3. Growing up, Mark would attend Hebrew School two to three days a week. When he moved to NY with his mom and stepdad, he recalls, “I remember realizing that all the kids I knew were reading the stuff phonetically off the page, and I was just dumbfounded that they let kids do that.”
4. “I would never change or give a second thought to living life differently to the way I am. It is troubling, for sure; it’s really ugly, and terrible things are going on all over the world right now,” Ronson said in 2015 of being Jewish. “Our generation has been spoiled. We’ve never had to think about antisemitism living in England, and growing up in New York I certainly didn’t have to worry about it. But no, I’m not going to think twice about going to synagogue.”
5. He attended Collegiate School, then Vassar College and New York University, and while at NYU, he became a regular DJ’ing in downtown NYC in the early 90s.
6. In the early 2000s, Mark made the transition from DJ to producer, and released his own debut album, “Here Comes the Fuzz,” in 2003.
“With my records, they’re always from my background as a DJ and playing in clubs in New York for 20 years. Everything always comes from the beat, whether it’s a live drum or a program beat on a drum machine,” he explained.
7. While living in New York, he got really into the New York Knicks. “‘I got seriously die hard with the Knicks. I got a season ticket for them. New Yorkers like to be neurotic and that’s why we like the heartache of never winning,” Ronson joked.
(Yes, Ezra Koenig took that video, nbd.)
8. Mark Ronson connected with Amy Winehouse in 2005 and worked to produce her big album “Back to Black.” He tells NPR, “I just remember really liking this one song off [her first record] called ‘In My Bed’ and being a little bit enamored [with] this young Jewish girl from North London — I have the same thing, from a Jewish family from North London — with this incredible voice.” Their collaboration produced songs like “Rehab” and “Back to Black.”
9. After her sudden death at 27, Ronson attended her funeral and performed “Valerie” in tribute. “It’s really lovely getting to play some music here for you tonight. That’s what makes everything better,” Ronson said at the tribute gig. “I went to her service yesterday, and there was a rabbi that spoke and he said that somebody’s life is measured in deeds and not years. That’s the best thing I heard yesterday. The genius in that woman and what she shared with us is pretty special. I’m not going to get all morbid on you. It’s just nice to be playing music to people who like good music. She is my sister, wherever she is.”
10. Ronson has also collaborated with artists such as Adele, Bruno Mars, Duran Duran, Kevin Parker, Lady Gaga, Lily Allen, Miley Cyrus, and more.
11. And yes, “Uptown Funk,” which became a literal worldwide phenomenon, is Ronson’s song. The music video has 4.1 billion views:
12. There’s an entire Wikipedia page for his awards and nominations, including seven Grammy Awards, for Lady Gaga’s “Shallow,” Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab,” and Bruno Mars’s “Locked Out of Heaven,” among others.
13. In 2003, he was engaged to Rashida Jones (he proposed with a crossword puzzle!), but the engagement ended in 2004. In 2011, he married French actress and singer Joséphine de La Baume; they divorced in 2018.
14. In 2021, he announced his engagement to Grace Gummer (daughter of Meryl Streep, fun fact!). Mark told a podcast he and Grace shared their first kiss listening to Tame Impala’s debut album. “There’s a plaque for that somewhere. There’s a first kiss, very corny Hallmark first kiss plaque,” he said. “But no, it was forever, it will be etched. It’s still my record.”
15. Mark founded his own label, Zelig Records, in 2018. The first artist he signed was Jewish singer King Princess. Zelig means “blessed” in Yiddish, but the label is named after the 1983 Woody Allen mockumentary “Zelig.”
Ronson chose the name because growing up split between New York and London, he always had to “learn how to adapt, to fit in.”
16. In 2019, he starred in Vampire Weekend’s music video for “This Life,” which features him leading a Passover Seder.
17. “I know I can be self-deprecating,” Ronson says. “We were talking about anomalies before. How many times can you have an anomaly before you go, well, OK, I must be good at something? I can’t just be lucking out every time, can I? I do feel like I’ve made something that has depth and emotion.”
18. Last but not least: He’s great at Instagram.
What other mainstream musician is out here wondering about posting on Shabbos on Instagram??! Mark Ronson forever.