Old School Americana & Nostalgia


Andy Griffith’s Early Trombone Skills Set Him on the Path to Hollywood

Andy Griffith’s Early Trombone Skills Set Him on the Path to Hollywood

For fans of Andy Griffith, knowing that he had a deep love and appreciation for music is just another swell characteristic. People might get the funny idea that he always wanted to be a comedian. Nothing, though, could be further from the truth.

Living in Mount Airy, North Carolina, Griffith’s first love was lit up for a while thanks to the trombone.

“When I was 14, I got a slide trombone from the Spiegel catalog and had no idea what to do with it,” Griffith told the Baraboo, Wisconsin¬†News Republic via MeTV. “We didn’t have a music program in my school in Mount Airy.”

What a tragedy. He gets a slide trombone but doesn’t have any place, right off the bat, to learn how to play it. This leaves quite a troubling question. It is, “What was a young trombone player supposed to do?” He had a solid instrument that worked well.

Andy Griffith Finds Pastor To Help Him Learn Trombone

Now, Griffith needed someone to intercede and help out. Thank goodness, Griffith was led to a man who helped him learn to blow his horn. Rev. Ed Mickey was a local pastor who taught boys how to play horns.

“He didn’t know about slide trombones, but I had a book that came with my horn,” Griffith said. “When I first got that horn, I tried to pick out The Old Rugged Cross. I don’t think I got it, but I approached it. He said, ‘Leave this book and come back next Wednesday.’ I did and he started teaching me. Within two months, I played a solo in church. It was great.”

Griffith, upon playing that solo in church, felt the surge and excitement of performing in front of people. That gave him the incentive to continue this class. It also would be the impetus for him to choose show business over a role in the church.

“When music came into my life, with the trombone and the singing, I became somebody,” Griffith said. “That is, I became an individual, where an athlete is a real individual or a fine student is a real individual.”

Griffith would display his musical touch at times on The Andy Griffith Show. Remember when Briscoe Darling, the Darling Boys, and Charlene came a-callin’ in Mayberry?

It usually ended up with Andy grabbing his guitar for a great old bluegrass song. Of course, we can find him picking while sitting on the porch at home, too. Early in the show’s first season, there’s a touching scene when Andy plays his guitar and joins Ellie Walker (Elinor Donahue) for Away In A Manger.

Music had its place and time on Griffith’s show. Yet knowing a little bit about his backstory around music adds a little more to his personality.