Although there have been a lot of brother acts in country music, the talented bluegrass duo of Floyd and Lloyd Armstrong shared at least one special distinction — they were identical twins. And after a long career that started when they were just six years old, if they’re still around (more later about that) they would be in their eighties.
Born into a musical family in Depression-era Arkansas, the Armstrongs learned to play guitar and entertain at an early age. Lloyd later added the mandolin, and he sang harmony while Floyd hung on to his guitar and sang the lead. The young duo soon became a hit at local dances and after the family relocated to Southern California in the early 1940s things really began to happen.
By then the boys were in their teens, and they soon became a popular attraction in Los Angeles area nightspots. They also appeared on radio shows hosted by stars like Spade Cooley and others, some of them broadcast by what was then known as ‘border radio’ — powerful Mexican stations that blanketed the Southwest. And of course, they started making records, many of which are still available. The duo’s best known is probably “Mandolin Boogie” but they had many other good-selling records.
In the post-war years and on through the 1950s the twins continued to do very well in live shows and on radio, although they did have a period during which they didn’t make many records. Along the way they relocated to Texas and also added sister Patsy to the act, and she sang and played steel guitar until later leaving to get married and raise a family. The guys kept at it as the years passed, but there were also some period of inactivity and they eventually moved back to Arkansas. Around 1980 they enjoyed a career resurgence for a while, reissuing some of their records and making some new ones, and they also appeared in a number of live shows before health problems slowed them down. There’s not much available about their later years, but if the Armstrong Twins are still around they’d have turned 84 in January.
Armstrong Twins – “Mandolin Boogie”