Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Ray-O-Vac Battery Twins

In 1928 the Ray-O-Vac Battery Twins were new on the scene. While they were not actually twins Billy Sheehan and Russell Wildey, were genuine vaudeville artists. The twins part isn't really important on the radio. Widley is sometimes credited as Russ, and Ross even in reliable publications like Broadcasting magazine. Their history is short and arcane and tied to that rush of fake musical twins on the radio in the late 1920s.

They toured  parts of Florida in 1927 playing on WJAX-AM and WFLA-AM.  In 1928 made an appearance on KMJ-AM. The St. Petersburg Independent Newspaper actually recording that they had a "series of shows" on WFLA that year, on to WBBM-AM in Chicago KUSI , WEAU, and KOW-AM Portland. They even sold sheet music for their single "Dream Kisses" published by Ager, Yellen & Bornstein. More here. Their announcements in newspapers stretch from 1926 to 1928.

Ray-O-Vac actually became Rayovac in 1988. The company was founded in 1906 in Madison, Wisconsin, by James Bowen Ramsay as the French Battery Co. In 1930 the company became Ray-O-Vac officially though clearly they'd been using the branding for at least 4 years already. The company still exists today, but I can't say the same about the Twins. Their short history seems to end before Ray-O-Vac actually became Ray-O-Vac.

There is actually a bit of film out there of them playing. They did  a short in 1927 directed by Bryan Foy, and they recorded a Vitaphone indicating there may have been another short film. But it appears to be lost to time. More here.