One of the most popular vocalists between the end of World War II and the rise of rock & roll in the mid-'50s, Perry Como perfected the post-big-band approach to pop music by lending his own irresistible, laid-back singing -- influenced by Bing Crosby and Russ Columbo -- to the popular hits of the day on radio, TV, and LP. Both his early traditional crooning style plus his later relaxed manner and focus on novelty material were heavily indebted to Bing Crosby, though Como's appeal during the early '50s was virtually unrivaled. Born in 1912 in Canonsburg, PA, Como was working as a singing barber in his hometown when he began touring with local bandleader Freddie Carlone at the age of 21. By the mid-'30s, he got his big break with Ted Weems & His Orchestra, who headed a popular radio show named Beat the Band. After the orchestra broke up in 1942, Como hosted a regional CBS radio show later called Supper Club. The show's success gained him a contract with RCA Victor Records by 1943, and he also began working in Hollywood with Something for the Boys.