1941: Sergio is born in Niteroi, RJ, Brazil.
1947–1955: Studies classic music at “Curso Santa Cecilia” and the Conservatory of Music in Niteroi.
1956: For the first time, hears a jazz record—Dave Brubeck—at a friend’s house, and forms a group of jazz “aficionados”.
Dave Brubeck, Horace Silver, and Art Tatum change Sergio’s musical perception completely. The universe of Jazz becomes the biggest influence in his musical tendency.
1956–1961: Sergio leads several musical groups, with different formations—trios, quartets, quintets. With these groups, Sergio plays at various types of engagements, from tea dances to proms and parties, until he takes a ferry boat ride across the bay to Rio de Janeiro to open at a new club, the “Bottles Bar”. This will be the first of many trips…
This is the period when Bossa Nova is starting to emerge and Sergio, along with Antonio Carlos Jobim, Joao Gilberto, and others, are considered its biggest representatives, being the initiators of this amazing era that brought to the world, probably, the best music ever to come out of Brazil.
At this time Sergio forms the “Bossa Rio Sextet,” with 2 trombones, tenor sax, piano, bass and drums. This band very quickly becomes very popular on the musical scene of the time, not only in Rio, but all over Brazil. With this sextet Sergio records an LP—“Voce ainda nao ouviu nada” (“You haven’t heard anything…yet”)—with arrangements by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Moacyr Santos, and by Sergio himself. This record is an important landmark in the history of instrumental music in Brazil.
Sergio travels all over Brazil with the Bossa Rio, and receives an award for best instrumental group, from the “Folha de Sao Paulo” newspaper, which at the time was a kind of Brazilian Grammy Award. Around this time he is hired by the biggest textile company of Brazil to travel around the world with his group, doing shows as an opening act for fashion shows. They go to Europe, The Middle East, and Japan.
1962: Sergio goes to New York to participate in the famous Bossa Nova Festival at Carnegie Hall, joining Joao Gilberto, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Stan Getz, and Charlie Byrd, among others. The New York Times calls Sergio’s appearance one of the highlights of the evening. During this trip, Sergio visits the famous “Birdland,” and hears, for the first time in person, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Cannonball Adderley. At the time, Cannonball invites Sergio to make a record with him—“Cannonball Adderley and The Bossa Rio Sextet.” Around this time Sergio meets Nesuhi Ertegun, owner/President of Atlantic Records, who signs Sergio and produces his first American record—“The Swinger From Rio.” Nesuhi becomes a great friend and mentor.
1964: Sergio moves to the US (California), with a group that he names “Brasil 64.” With this instrumental formation he makes two records—in 64 and 65, and does several personal appearances, in clubs, around the United States.
1965–1966: Sergio decides to add female vocals to his instrumental sound, hires two singers, and finds out that, this way, he can achieve a new sonority, very different from anything he has ever done before. He creates a sound that will be recognized all over the world, as his trademark—“Brasil 66.”
Sergio meets Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss, of A&M Records, who then sign Sergio to their company. They become close friends forever.
Herb Alpert produces the first “Brasil 66” LP, which becomes an immediate success on the hit parade of the world. “Mas Que Nada” written by Jorge Ben, becomes the first song, sung entirely in Portuguese to reach the top 5 on the Billboard magazine pop chart in the US.
From that success, he goes on to earn several gold and platinum records and produce many hit songs. Sergio’s popularity explodes in the US and internationally. He appears in several top US variety shows and TV specials during this time, with stars including Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis, Danny Kaye, Fred Astaire, Frank Sinatra, and Andy Williams, as well as on the top rated The Tonight Show.
1967: Sergio joins the roster of Chartwell Artists (headed by Jerry Perenchio, who becomes one of his closest friends), and does his first long tour with Frank Sinatra, performing in several cities through the US. Sergio also tours and appears in Las Vegas with other artists such as Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Henry Mancini, Paul Anka, and Jerry Lewis.
1968: Sergio does his first Tour of Japan with Brasil ’66, opening the doors for Brazilian music in that country, and becoming one of the most popular artists in Japan, with a kind of success only equaled by the Beatles. Since then, Japan (and the rest of Asia as well) is always an obligatory stop in his artistic itinerary, having done more than 30 tours in that area.
1971: Performs at The White House for the first time, at the invitation of President Nixon, during the State visit of the then Prince Juan Carlos of Spain. The second time he performs at the White House will be in 1982, invited by President Reagan, during the visit of the Brazilian President.
1980: Frank Sinatra invites Sergio for a second tour in the US and Europe.
Through the years, Sergio produces several records for various artists, including Gilberto Gil, Sarah Vaughn, Johnny Mathis, and many others, continuing to promote Brazilian Music throughout the world.
1993: Sergio is awarded a Grammy® for his record entitled “Brasileiro.” He continues touring and working on several projects as producer/arranger, through 2005.
2006: The CD “Timeless” is released, featuring stellar cast of guests, that include The Black Eyed Peas, Stevie Wonder, Jill Scott, India.Arie, Justin Timberlake, Q-tip, Erikah Bahdu, and many others, produced by Sergio and his friend will.i.am, the leader of The Black Eyed Peas. “Timeless” brings Sergio Gold Records in Brazil, England, Japan. It also receives a Latin Grammy® (for Best Brazilian Record) and Brazil’s Tim Award as Best Record of Foreign Language. It is also nominated for three Grammy Awards®, and other prestigious awards around the world.
2008: The CD “Encanto” is released, produced by Sergio, with several American and International guests.
2010: The CD “Bom Tempo” (his 38th studio CD) is released all over the world on May 15. In November 2010 “Bom Tempo” receives a Latin Grammy® for “Best Contemporary Pop Brazilian Album”.
2011: The widely acclaimed animated film “Rio”, directed by Brazilian born Carlos Saldhana, is released by 20th Century Fox in April 2011. Sergio acted as Executive Music Producer for the movie, as well as Producer/Composer/Arranger/Performer in several of the movie’s songs, as well as lending his voice to one of the characters.
The album “Herb Alpert Presents Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66,” Sergio’s first work for the A&M label, is inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Sergio’s CD “Celebration,” a compilation of his work, is released in May, celebrating his 50 years as a recording artist.
2012: Sergio receives an Oscar® nomination for Best Original song “Real In Rio”(for the film “Rio), co-written by Siedah Garrett and Carlinhos Brown.
He continues touring the world and doing pre-production for a new CD.
2013: To celebrate 50 years of concerts/touring in Japan, Sergio records a CD with 9 of the most promising Japanese female singers (plus Karen Mok, a very well known singer from Hong Kong), entitled “Rendez-Vous”, which is released in July.
2014: In March the film “Rio 2” is released, with Sergio again as Executive Music Producer, composer, arranger, and performer. The film enjoys worldwide success.
In September the CD “Magic” is released worldwide (Europe/Japan in June) with guests from US (John Legend, will.i.am, Janelle Monae, Scott Mayo) and Brazil (Milton Nascimento, Carlinhos Brown, Maria Gadu, Ana Carolina, Seu Jorge, Mika Mutti, Aila Menezes and Sergio’s wife Gracinha Leporace). It was nominated for a Grammy Award® in the Best World Music Album category.
2015: In addition to a full tour of concerts in the US, Asia, and Europe, Sergio and his band play to 100,000+ fans in September on the Sunset Stage in Rio de Janeiro, as part of the 30th anniversary celebration of Rock in Rio, the biggest music festival in South America.
2016: Sergio travels all over the world, with tours of US, Japan and several other countries, in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of his band Brasil '66.
To celebrate the 2016 Olympics held in Rio de Janeiro, he recorded, along with Brazilian singers Baby do Brasil and Rogerio Flausino, the song “Se Liga Ae”, written by Rogê/Pretinho da Serrinha/Leandro Fab, which was released in June 2016.
2017–2018: Sergio continues touring in concert throughout the US, England, Europe, and Japan.
2019: Production is underway on a documentary about his life, directed by John Scheinfeld, whose acclaimed work includes documentaries on John Lennon, Harry Nilsson, Brian Wilson and many others. The documentary, entitled “Sergio Mendes: In the Key of Joy” inspired a CD by the same name, featuring collaborations with Common, Cali y El Dandee, Buddy, Sugar Joans, Hermeto Pascoal, Shelea Frazer, and Gracinha Leporace.
2020: Both the documentary and the CD premiere in early 2020, but release is impacted by the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, which all but shuts down the live music and theatrical film industries.
2021: The documentary “Sergio Mendes: In the Key of Joy” premieres on HBO Latam, HBO Brasil, and HBO Latam in April. “Sergio Mendes & Friends: A Celebration,” a 60-minute show featuring highlights from the full-length documentary, airs on PBS stations across America starting in June. The full-length documentary begins streaming late in the year on platforms including Peacock and iTunes. Sergio and the band are one of the first performers back on stage live in concert at the legendary Hollywood Bowl in August, and the band performs with the San Diego Symphony under the stars at the inaugural season of the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park in September.
2022–Present: Sergio’s performance calendar takes him to dates across the U.S. as well as concerts in Japan, Korea, the Philippines and Denmark.