He may have just turned 41, but age hasn’t slowed this over-achiever. Now the happy-go-lucky singer/ songwriter, rapper, producer and all-around entrepreneur is finally a huge star in his own right.
1. For years he and buddy Chad Hugo worked as The Neptunes. They originally met as 12-yearolds at summer camp for budding musicians in Virginia Beach. They were spotted at a high school talent show, signed in 1992 and had their first brush with success on Wreckx - N - Effect’s Rump Shaker that same year all about, you guessed it, booty twerking. 2. After years of small hits and producing credits, Pharrell and Chad produced an album for R&B singer Kelis, Kaleidoscope, that garnered lots of attention. So much so, that in 2001 Britney Spear’s people (looking to sex-up her image) managed to snatch their I’m A Slave 4 U away from Janet Jackson. It gave them their first worldwide number one. Soon after, Pharrell and Chad produced Nelly’s Hot In Herre, which became a dance classic. 3. In 2003, The Neptunes remixed Daft Punk’s Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger which featured Pharrell rapping. It was just a hint of a major collaboration still a decade away. 4. Chad and Pharrell decided to start their own band, christened N.E.R.D. (which stood for “No One Ever Really Dies”). They scored a fistful of hits, most notably 2004’s R&B/rock classic She Wants To Move, guaranteed to even get straight guys dancing. The band is currently “on hiatus” while Pharrell works on his myriad of other projects although he promised the next N.E.R.D. will be, erm, “nature based”. 5. In 2007 Madonna came calling, as she does. After Pharrell worked on her earth love anthem Hey You for Live Earth, he tinkered with much of her 2008 Hard Candy album featuring Give It To Me where he also had a cameo in the video.
7. A true entrepreneur, Pharrell owns a YouTube channel and “cultural movement dedicated to thinkers, innovators and outcasts” called i am OTHER (not to be confused with will.i.am). 6. Other artists who have benefitted from Pharrell’s magic touch have included Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Beyoncé, Shakira, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Timberlake, Adam Lambert, Miley Cyrus, Frank Ocean, Scissor Sisters and comedian Chelsea Handler (he composed the music for her Chelsea Lately show). 8. Pharrell has also branched out into clothing with the brands Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream. To launch them, he worked with Japanese fashion icon Nigo, founder of A Bathing Ape (BAPE), and has now moved into womenswear with Billionaire Girls Club. He has also co-designed jewellery (under the name Blason) and glasses for Louis Vuitton. 9. 2013 proved to be a breakthrough for Pharrell as he appeared on the year’s two biggest tracks. First was Daft Punk’s unstoppably catchy Get Lucky and the second was Robin Thicke’s risqué Blurred Lines. 10. By the end of the year, Pharrell was back at #1 but this time on his own with the jaunty Happy from Despicable Me 2 which scored a nomination for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards. 11. Besides an impending solo album, Pharrell is also due to deliver The Amazing Spider-Man 2 soundtrack, as well as having worked on a new Kylie Minogue track called The Winners. 12. Voted Best Dressed Man In The World by Esquire magazine, Pharrell married long-time girlfriend Helen Lasichanh last year. The two have a six-year-old son with the Elton John-friendly name of Rocket Man Williams. Pharrell’s dad’s name is Pharaoh, so Pharrell and Rocket Man may not be as wacky as you first thought. 13. He has his own charity, From One Hand To Another, which assists at-risk kids with learning programs in the US and his own organic textile company, Bionic Yarn. 14. Pharrell is also rather hot. Yay. And straight. Nobody’s perfect, right? He lost his virginity at age 16 when he worked at McDonald’s. In 2009 there were rumours he and Kanye West were a gay couple. This was likely not true. 15. The good news is he’s pro-equality. “I make music for human beings. There’s difference all across the board but at the end of the day we’re all humans,” he clarified in 2012. “You don’t gotta like everything. Live and let live, man!”
more: Pharrell’s new album will be released by Sony Music. pharrellwilliams.com