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Perry Como

Perry Como (May 18, 1912 - May 12, 2001) was a popular United States singer with a silky voice who became popular in the mid 1930s, and continued to have a following through the 1990s.

He was born Pierino Ronald Como to an Italian-American family at Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, the seventh son of a seventh son. He worked as a barber until 1933, when he joined the bands of Freddie Carlone and then Ted Weems Orchestra as a vocalist. He began recording with RCA Victor in 1943, and recorded exclusively with them until 1987 when his final album, Perry Como Today, was recorded and produced by himself and his longtime conductor / arranger Nick Perito.

By the 1980s the atmosphere of recording had changed dramatically from the early days Perry had remembered and throughout his long association with the RCA Victor Records label. Perry's recording sessions had always been filled with laughter and joy, as evidenced by his performances, but in later years he likened the recordings sessions to that of "recording in a morgue" which was more the fault of the times than anyone in specific. Perry walked away from the label in the early 1980s but he returned to record his own album with his trusted friend and associate Nick Perito in 1987. His recording of The Wind Beneath My Wings was almost autobiographical and a fitting end to a long and successful recording career. Perry would record only once more in 1994, but privately, for his well-known Irish Christmas Concert. Had this been for RCA Victor (then BMG), he would have been with the label for a solid 50 years.

He had numerous Christmas television specials, beginning Christmas Eve, 1948, and continuing to 1994 when his final Christmas Special was recorded in Ireland. His regular television show, at first a spin-off from the Chesterfield Supper Club. It continued throught the early 1950s, becoming The Perry Como Show and then for five years as The Perry Como Kraft Music Hall, where he became the highest paid performer in the history of television to that date, earning mention in the Guinness Book of World Records. Prior to this Perry battled Jackie Gleason in what was billed "The Battle of the Giants" and won. This is rarely mentioned due to the fact that Perry commonly diminished his own achievements. He recorded many long-play albums of songs for the RCA Victor Records label between 1952 an 1987, and is credited with numerous Gold records. Perry had so many recordings achieving "Gold Record" status that he refused to have many of them certified. It was this characteristic which made him so different frim his peers and endeared him to legions of fans throughout the whole world. Throughout the decades, Como is reported to have sold millions of records but these figures were commonly suppressed by Perry himself. Perry's well known songs include:

For millions of people throughout the world Perry Como was the personification of integrity. He once said, "I now have the things money can buy, whereas the things money can't buy, I've always had!" Perry was his own person from beginning to end and achieved recognition beyond his wildest imagination but he did this strictly on his own terms. He neither courted the media nor used it and this respect was mutual as the media treated his passing with the privacy he so richly deserved. As Bing Crosby said, Perry Como invented casual with his laid back style and silky baritone voice. He may have been casual in appearance but his high standards, personally and professionally, were second to none.

He died in May 12, 2001 at his residence in Jupiter, Florida, six days before his 89th birthday.