Prathivadhi Bhayankara Sreenivas was born to Prathivadhi Bhayankaram Phanindraswamy and Seshagiriamma as their Younger Son in Kakinada, East Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh. His father was a civil servant and his mother was a musician and His Elder Brother Panchanathan was a School Teacher. His father wanted him to become a government officer and Sreenivas was awarded a B.Com(Bachelor of Commerce) degree and then passed the Hindi Visharad Exams of the South Indian Hindi Spreading Society (Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha).
In an interview, Sreenivas said that it was through his mother's singing that he knew of Indian classical music. During his educational days, he had a habit of hearing radio. Mohammed Rafi was his favourite singer. His uncle, Kidambi Krishnaswamy, was a drama artist and a singer. When Sreenivas was 12, Krishnaswamy gave him a chance to sing in a drama. When Phanindraswamy asked an astrologer about this, he told that Sreenivas did not have a bright future in music field. But, instead of believing in the astrologer's words, he believed in his son's confidence.
Later, Sreenivas went to Gemini Studios, Madras. Emani Sankara Sastry, a famous veena player, was one of the residing musicians. Sastry was also one of the family friends of Sreenivas. He introduced Sreenivas to S. S. Vasan, the owner of Gemini Studios. There, Sreenivas sang a super hit song sung by Mohammed Rafi, his favourite singer. It was "Huye Hum Jinke Liye Barbad", from Deedar (1951), composed by Naushad Ali.
Sreenivas made his début in 1952 in Gemini's Hindi film Mr. Sampat. Sreenivas sang duets and triplets with Geeta Dutt, Shamshad Begum and Jikki apart from leading a chorus song. His first song "Aji hum Bharat ki naari", a duet with Geeta Dutt, became popular. 'Mr. Sampat' based on the novel in the same name, written by R. K. Narayan. Later, with the help of Jeeva, the sound recordist of 'Mr. Sampat', Sreenivas entered the South Indian Film Industry. R. Nagendra Rao, a well known actor and director of that time in South Indian film industry, made a trilingual film in all the South Indian languages except Malayalam. The movie was titled Jathakam in Tamil, Jathakaphalam in Telugu and Jathakaphala in Kannada. In all these languages, Sreenivas sang two songs each.
In Kannada, he achieved great success through Bhakta Kanakadasa starring Super Star Dr.Rajkumar. The song Baagilanu teredu of the film was a very big hit. Later he went on to sing greatest numbers for Super Star Dr.Vishnuvardhan, Srinath, Kalyan Kumar, Udaya Kumar and others. His first solo hit came in the movie Prema Pasam in which he also sang a duet with P. Susheela. His first song for Rajkumar was in 1956 film Ohileshwara. Later he sang for the Super Star for a long time and the association was highly appreciated by critics, fans and the industry. In the Tamil industry, his maximum number of songs are for Gemini Ganesan. The most memorable hit of this duo was 'Nilave ennidam nerungathe'. He had sung for other actors as well but incidentally, he had sung very few songs for M. G. Ramachandran and Sivaji Ganesan.He sang the popular duet in Hindi Chanda Se Hoga Wo Pyaara (with Lata Mangeshkar) in the film Main Bhi Ladki Hoon in 1964. In Tamil his voice was more used for actors Gemini Ganeshan, Muthuraman, Ravichandran, Jaishankar.
In Pava Mannippu, Sreenivas sang "Kalangalil Aval Vasantham" written by Kannadasan and set to music by the music duo M. S. Viswanathan - T. K. Ramamoorthy. The film Adutha Veettuppen of Anjali Pictures carried some of his songs. Sreenivas has also sung with P.Susheela, S. Janaki, P. Bhanumathi, K. Jamuna Rani, L. R. Easwari and Lata Mangeshkar for the movie Main Bhi Ladki Hoon and some North Indian Singers. His devotional songs include "Sharadha Bhujanga Stothram", "Sri Venkateswara Suprabhatham", "Mukunda Mala", "Shri Mallikarjuna Stotram" and Purandaradasa compositions. His "home away from home" was the Woodlands Drive-In restaurant in Chennai where one could frequently spot him sit quietly writing poetry. He had headed many music related organizations such as being the president of Iyal Isai Nataka Mandram.
Sreenivas entered Malayalam film industry within two years after entering the other three South Indian film industries. There are confusions that in which film did he first sing in Malayalam. There are two arguments. The first argument is that his first Malayalam song was in Amma (1952), while the other argument it was in Puthradharmam (1954). But, his actual first Malayalam song was in Harischandra (1955), as said by Sreenivas himself in an interview. The song was 'Mahal Thyagame Mahithame Ninte Margam', written by Thirunainar Kurichi Madhavan Nair and composed by Brother Lakshmanan. He sang many songs in Malayalam too, even though the number is very less while compared to Tamil, Telugu and Kannada. They include Malar Thorum Mandahasam Viriyunnathenthinakam, Kannum En Kannumay, Innu Kaanum Ponkinakkal, Kanneerenthinu Vanambadi, Kanmoo Njan Ninte, Kaninaal Kaanmathellam, Niranja Kannukalode, Mamalakalkkappurathu Marathakappattuduthu, Padinjare Manathulla, Geethe Hridayasakhi Geethe, Thulasi Thulasi Vilikelkoo, Vanadevathamare Vidanalkoo, Kizhakku Kizhakkorana, etc. Most of his Malayalam songs were composed by M. S. Baburaj and G. Devarajan.
Though Sreenivas had hit numbers in all the languages that he sang, it was in the Kannada Film Industry that he sang the highest number of songs in his career and it was in the Kannada Industry that he delivered the highest number of hit songs. PB Sreenivas ruled the Kannada Industry for over three decades and was the voice for many Super Stars though his combination with Dr.Rajkumar created history. He was instrumental in shaping the Kannada identity like Dr.Rajkumar and Dr.Vishnuvardhan.
Dr.P.B.S has sung for many artistes apart from Dr.Rajkumar in Kannada. Noted among them include Kalyan Kumar, Udaykumar, Rajesh, Srinath, Gangadhar, R.N.Sudarshan, Vishnuvardhan, Ranga, K.S.Aswath, Narasimharaju, Balakrishna, Shivaram, Ashok, Jaijagadish, Ramgopal, Sampath, Shankarnag, Rajashankar, Eshwarappa, Panthulu, Ramesh, Dwarakish, Suresh Heblikar, Seetharam, Arunkumar (Gururajulu Naidu), Vasudeva Girimaji, Rathnakar, Kanagal Prabhakar Shastry and many more.
Sreenivas was also a poet. He was fluent in eight languages - Telugu (His mothertongue), Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi, English, Sanskrit and Urdu, and wrote poems in all these languages. He sang many poems during many programmes. In 1997, when popular Indian singers K. J. Yesudas and S. P. Balasubrahmanyam came with him to the famous musical meet called 'Lakshman Sruthi', he wrote a poem within a few seconds praising both singers. He learnt Urdu from an Urdu scholar. He wrote two Urdu ghazals for the Tamil movie Nandu (1981), directed by J. Mahendran. They were 'Kaise Kahoon Kuch Kehna Sakoon', sung by Bhupendra and S. Janaki and the other was 'Hum Hain Akele', sung by S. Janaki alone. He also wrote and composed two English poems in 1969, praising the landing of man on the Moon. They were titled 'Man To Moon', a solo by himself and the other was 'Moon To God' a duet with S. Janaki. The gramophone records of these songs were sent to the then United States President Richard Nixon and Neil Armstrong, the man who first landed on the moon. Sreenivas was praised by both people.
His biography named `Madhurya Saarvabhowma Dr. P.B. Srinivos' (penned by R. Srinath) was released on 7 May 2013 at the Palace Grounds, Bangalore by the great Singers Dr. S.P. Balasubramanyam, Vani Jairam and Dr. K.J. Jesudos.
Dr.P.B. Srinivos was conferred with the prestigious title - Madhurya Saarvabhowma by Madhursangeeth, an association composed of Sriyuths S. Jayasimha, R. Srinath, Doddahullur Rukkoji, B.K. Chandrashekhar, G.V. Atri and B.R. Jayaprakash on 24 July 1992 at a function held at Chowdiah Memorial Hall,Bengaluru. This momentous function was attended by the great music directors G.K. Venkatesh, T.G. Lingappa, lyricist Chi Udayashankar, noted Kannada cinema personalities and other dignitaries.
Sreenivas had sung for almost all the superstars of South India, but it was his combination with Kannada Matinee Idol Rajkumar that struck a chord with the audience. He has sung at least 300 super hit numbers for the star. In the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, if it was Dr.Rajkumar, then there had to be songs sung by Dr.PBS. Rajkumar himself had said that his true identity was Sreenivas and his voice would never die but only grow. The late actor once described Sreenivas as his 'dhvani' (voice in Kannada) while he himself was a mere 'shareera' (body in Kannada), summing up how some of the best-known films of the thespian are unimaginable without Sreenivas lending his voice. When Rajkumar was honoured with Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1995, Sreenivas rejoiced as though he had got an award himself. Sreenivas said he was honoured because his "voice" had won a great honour. Recalling his association with matinee idol, Rajkumar, Sreenivas in his recent interview had mentioned that 'Rajkumar had a golden voice and all his songs are hugely popular. He excelled in singing all types of songs from romantic to heavily classical. But I was his voice for nearly three decades'. PBS was the voice of Rajkumar, and Rajkumar was the face of PBS is how he would describe Rajumar and himself. Sreenivas was hence known as the Voice of Rajkumar in South India. Until 1974, Sreenivas was Rajkumar's most frequent singing voice in films. However, once when Sreenivas was not available to sing for the movie Sampattige Sawaal, Composer G K Venkatesh encouraged Rajkumar to sing the song Yaare Koogadali that was supposed to be sung by Sreenivas. With that song, Rajkumar restarted his singing career, which had stopped after the movie Ohileshwara. Thus began his journey as the most famous actor-singer that the Indian and Kannada film industry has ever seen.The highest award of Karnataka State, the prestigious Kannada Rajyothsava Award awarded by the Chief Minister of the state
The Tamil Nadu state's honorary Kalaimamani Award.
Dr Rajkumar Souhardha award given by the super star's family.
Karnataka Nadoja Award - constituted by Kannada University, Hampi, Karnataka awarded by the then Governor of Karnataka.
Tamil Nadu State Film Honorary Award - Kalaivanar Award in 2002
Sreenivas died at home in Chennai on 14 April 2013 at the age of 82. He suffered a heart attack while eating his lunch. His death coincided with Tamil Puthandu/Vishu celebrations. He was cremated on the next day. He was survived by his wife and children.
- Laxmi Pooja (1979)
- Gorantha Deepam (1978)
- Jeevana Jyothi (1976)
- Seeta Kalyanam (1976)
- Chelleli Kapuram (1971)
- Saptaswarulu (1969)
- Ooty Varai Uravu (1967)
- Sakshi (1967)
- Letha Manasulu (1966)
- Tene Manasulu (1965)