Singer Rusty Draper was one of the biggest crossover stars of the early '50s, selling over a million records to pop and country audiences before the rise of rock & roll derailed his career. Born Farrell Draper in Kirksville, MO, on January 25, 1920, he received his first guitar at age ten, and within two years made his radio debut on Tulsa station WTUL's Cy Perkins Show. From there, Draper hosted his own show on Des Moines outlet WWHO, occasionally substituting for sports announcer Ronald "Dutch" Reagan. He also cut a demo for RCA Bluebird, but the label declined to offer a contract. In 1938 the Drapers relocated to San Bernardino, CA. When he proved unable to resume his fledgling music career, Rusty worked as a Western Union messenger boy before pawning his guitar to fund a trip to San Francisco in search of a performing gig. He finally landed a residency at the Bay Area nightclub the Barn, after a year accepting a proposed two-week stay at the nearby Rumpus Room; two weeks ultimately turned into eight years, and during his tenure at the Rumpus Room, Draper met his wife Macia Willsey, who soon took over management of his career. Willsey landed him appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts as well as his own local San Francisco television showcase, and in mid-1952 the singer signed to Mercury and issued his debut single, "How Could You (Blue Eyes)."