Perry Como was truly one of the superstars of the Fifties and Sixties. He started recording in 1943 on the RCA label and stayed with them for 44 years. He holds the record (no pun intended) for the longest any artist has stayed with one label. In fact, Perry never recorded for anyone else.
He started out life as a barber and there is a myth that he would sing while cutting hair and was discovered when he cut the hair of an agent who signed him to a record contract. While it’s true he did sing while he cut hair, he got his break while he was on vacation. He auditioned for the Freddy Carlone band and was hired. He made $125/week as a barber, Carlone paid him $28/week, so it was a real risk to give up a sure thing for the chance of fame as a singer. But, we’re sure glad he did.
He was born in 1912 and he died in 2001 at the age of 88. He began on television when television was still in its infancy in 1949 and hosted his own show until 1963. Then he hosted the Kraft Music Hall from 1963 until 1967. Known as “Mr C.”, Perry Como was one of the most recognizable voices of the Fifties.
“Round and Round” was written by Joe Shapiro and Lou Stallman and was published in 1956. Perry sang the song on his television show and the response was so great that RCA decided to release it as a single. The Ray Charles Singers are in the background on the song. Some sources say that this is the only Perry Como number one song, but it depends on which chart you look at. In the Fifties there were several charts that compiled data and I use all of them. So, he hit number one in 1956 with “Hot Diggity” and he would have another number one in 1958.
One of the things that may have endeared him to the youth of the day (who were buying most of the records) was that Perry Como never put down rock and roll. While he didn’t sing the new style of music himself, he recognized its importance and had many current recording stars on his show, people like The Everly Brothers, Fats Domino, Paul Anka, Conway Twitty and many more.
When we got a television in the late Fifties (a boxy black and white device with a screen about 24 inches across), one of our favorite shows was Perry Como. I watched him well into the Sixties.
“Round and Round” entered the pop chart on April 6, 1957 and stayed at number one for two weeks.
I like to use actual performances when I show a video if I can find it. This one was from Perry’s show and you can see just how much fun the program was and why he was so popular. I hope you enjoy “Round and Round.”
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