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The Ray-O-Vacs


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The Ray-O-Vacs are best remembered for “I’ve Got Two Arms to Hold You,” which sold well in both the R&B and pop music fields in the mid-’50s. The Ray-O-Vacs — led by Lester Harris — appeared on the doo wop scene in early March of 1950. At the time, “Once Upon a Time” was a big number one hit for the Ames Brothers, who recorded for Coral Records. Coral’s parent label — Decca — had tried to get additional sales by having the Ray-O-Vacs cover the song and their version did sell some copies, but not nearly enough to make a dent in the sales by the Ames Brothers. Decca tried again with the pop standard “Besame Mucho,” which managed to sell well throughout the summer and into fall. That November, Decca issued a final side for the Ray-O-Vacs, this time spotlighting Harris on “I’ve Got Two Arms to Hold You” b/w “A Kiss in the Dark,” which was the first recording on Decca by the group released in the new 45-rpm format.

The single sold well in both the R&B and pop music fields, but subsequent singles failed to further their career. Ray-O-Vacs lead vocalist Harris left the group and signed a contract to record as a solo artist for RCA Records; Harris was eventually replaced by Herbert Milliner, who was spotlighted on their final Decca release, “Hands Across the Table,” from 1951. The next year brought new attempts to find success within the pop music field. The Ray-O-Vacs issued “When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano,” which had been a hit for the Ink Spots years before, but it too failed to ignite any sales.


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