He’s Gone, But We Love To Tell Andy Griffith’s Life Story

Andy Samuel Griffith was best known for his numerous roles in a variety of television shows and films. The most notable of which included his ‘60s sitcom The Andy Griffith Show and the legal drama Matlock. Of course, he played the lead roles in both TV series. While it’s quite interesting to talk about his successes in the television, it’s also worth discussing his accomplishments in music. Hence, this article would feature the musical journey of the late actor and singer.

Birth and Younger Days

Andy Griffith was born on June 1, 1926, to parents Geneva Nunn Griffith and Carl Lee Griffith. The only child, Griffith came from a family who’s not financially well-off. His mother was a housewife and caregiver while his father was a carpenter. Just a couple of years after he was born, Griffith was without a crib or bed. He slept in drawers for a few months. And, before his parents were able to buy a house, he had lived with relatives. Prior to becoming a successful actor, he used to sweep the schools and received a monthly payment of $6.

The Birth of Music in Him

At the age of 15, he purchased his first trombone. While attending high school, Griffith looked up Ed Mickey who was a minister at Grace Moravian Church. Mickey was also a musical bandleader in the brass instruments. It was him who taught Andy Griffith how to play the trombone, successfully. On the other hand, his mother introduced him to playing the guitar. Such musical talent of his has contributed a lot to his acting roles later. Griffith played the instrument on both series, The Andy Griffith Show (1960) and Matlock (1986).

“I still play that guitar. It’s a Martin D-18 with a clear pickguard. I’ve played that guitar on and off my TV shows for nearly 50 years.”

As to the significance of singing particularly in his shows, he has the following words:

“Music was always important to our show. Don [Knotts] and I sang a lot together, you know … We would sing hymns in the jail while we were dusting, sweeping and different things.”

Meanwhile, he earned a degree in music from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1949. In the 1950s, Griffith has performed upbeat country and gospel tunes during the run of The Andy Griffith Show. Toward the latter years of his career, he recorded successful Christian hymns. His most successful project was the 1996 release I Love to Tell the Story: 25 Timeless Hymns. The album received platinum certification from RIAA and earned Griffith a Grammy Award for Best Southern, Country and Bluegrass Gospel Album in 1997. A decade later, he was inducted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

On Living a Christian Life

At the age of eight, Griffith has been baptized alongside his mother. The talented artist has since then tried to walk a Christian life.  He attended church regularly and reading the Bible was among his favorite hobbies. Before his death due to a heart attack on July 3, 2012, he said,

“And now that I’m getting older, I realized that I’m walking even closer [to] my God.”

Additional Trivia

  • Griffith recorded a speaking role in Brad Paisley’s song, “Waitin’ on a Woman”, about an old man imparting romantic advice to Brad.
  • If Johnny Cash became notable for his usual wear of black suits and was later dubbed as the “Man in Black,” Griffith was seen frequently wearing gray suits or blazers, particularly on Matlock series.