Life And Times Of Perry Como Part Two
I know that it’s been awhile but I did remember that I’m going to do Life And Times Of Perry Como Part Two , which is about what I studied for weeks for. He’s not as popular as though the garage that I hear today, but he’s on my list of singers that I like and I’m ready to begin.
Como was born in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. He was the seventh of ten children and the first American-born child of Pietro Como and Lucia Travaglini, who both emigrated to the US in 1910 from the Abruzzese town of Palena, Italy. He did not begin speaking English until he entered school, since the Comos spoke Italian at home. The family had a second-hand organ his father had bought for $3; as soon as Como was able to toddle, he would head to the instrument, pump the bellows, and play music he had heard by ear. Pietro, a mill hand and an amateur baritone, had all his children attend music lessons even if he could barely afford them. In a rare 1957 interview, Como’s mother, Lucia, described how her young son also took on other jobs to pay for more music lessons; Como learned to play many different instruments, but never had a voice lesson. He showed more musical talent in his teenage years as a trombone player in the town’s brass band, playing guitar, singing at weddings, and as an organist at church. Como was a member of the Canonsburg Italian Band along with the father of singer Bobby Vinton, bandleader Stan Vinton, who was often a customer at his barber shop.
Young Como started helping his family at age 10, working before and after school in Steve Fragapane’s barber shop for 50¢ a week. By age 13, he had graduated to having his own chair in the Fragapane barber shop, although he stood on a box to tend to his customers. It was also around this time that young Como lost his week’s wages in a dice game. Filled with shame, he locked himself in his room and did not come out until hunger got the better of him. He managed to tell his father what had happened to the money his family depended on. His father told him he was entitled to make a mistake and that he hoped his son would never do anything worse than this. When Perry was 14, his father became unable to work because of a severe heart condition. Como and his brothers became the support of the household.
Despite his musical ability, Como’s primary ambition was to become the best barber in Canonsburg. Practicing on his father, young Como mastered the skills well enough to have his own shop at age 14. One of Como’s regular customers at the barber shop owned a Greek coffee house that included a barber shop area, and asked the young barber whether he would like to take over that portion of his shop. Como had so much work after moving to the coffee house, he had to hire two barbers to help with it. His customers worked mainly at the nearby steel mills. They were well-paid, did not mind spending money on themselves and enjoyed Como’s song renditions. Perry did especially well when one of his customers would marry. The groom and his men would avail themselves of every treatment Como and his assistants had to offer. Como sang romantic songs while busying himself with the groom as the other two barbers worked with the rest of the groom’s party. During the wedding preparation, the groom’s friends and relatives would come into the shop with gifts of money for Como. He became so popular as a “wedding barber” in the Greek community that he was asked to provide his services in Pittsburgh and throughout Ohio.