Originally posted December 2015.
I never knew much about Perry Como other than he was an old-timer on TV. He was a lot more interesting than I knew. It seems his biggest ambition growing up was to own his own barber shop, and in fact he was good enough that he actually did by the time he was 14. He took music lessons from a very young age and became proficient with trombone, guitar and organ. He never took vocal lessons, but he sang at weddings as a teenager. At 17 he moved to his uncle’s barber shop in a bigger town, was invited on stage by a bandleader named Freddy Carlone and was offered a singing job almost immediately. He had to take a pay cut from $125/week barbering to $28/week singing, but he did.
Later, of course, he hosted weekly TV shows, first on CBS and then on NBC until 1967. After that he hosted Christmas specials for years; the final one was in 1994. He died just short of his 89th birthday in 2001.
Here’s one of the songs he sang for those Christmas specials.