Bluegrass Group From ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Returns To Mount Airy, NC

by Matthew Memrick
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The Dillards, a bluegrass group made famous on “The Andy Griffith Show,” recently returned to Mount Airy, N.C. to play for residents.

WRAL reported that the band hasn’t slowed down after more than 50 years of touring and making bluegrass records.

On the 1960s show, the Dillards went by the name of The Darlings. By the time they hit the show, they already were bluegrass stars. Their music also introduced many Americans to the genre at the time.

Dillard Supposed To Only Do One ‘Andy Griffith Show’

Rodney Dillard and his band traveled back to the town made famous from The Andy Griffith Show. Dillard formed the group with his brother, Douglas Dillard, in the late 1950s.

The Salem, Mo.-band appeared in several episodes as “The Darlings” from 1963 and 1966. That’s pretty good, considering that wasn’t the plan.

Rodney Dillard told WRAL his band was “supposed to do only one episode.”

Dillard said Griffith “had enough sense to know what bands would come out of the mountains.” The band leader said his group came out of the Ozarks, where many grew up without electricity or water.

But the men fought radio static to catch a little bit of the Grand Ole Opry growing up. Rodney said he got a guitar and started playing music with his brother. From there, the brothers formed a band and made a record.

Dillard Go To Hollywood, Griffith Reads About Them

Hollywood was next. They found a place, a lobby outside an L.A. club. 

Dillard said the club owner scolded them for “play there,” telling them they had to play on stage one night. The band signed with Elektra Records, and “it all came together that night.”

Andy Griffith happened to read a Variety newspaper article about the band, needing a band to be on his show. The actor asked the group to audition.

Rodney Dillard said the band “picked halfway through a song” when Griffith said, ‘that’s it.’ Dillard turned to his brother, thinking they were getting booted out when Griffith told them they got the job. The North Carolina native put them on the road to superstardom.

‘Andy Griffith Show’ Success Leads To Opportunities

One episode turned into five, and the Dillards had made it. 

IMDb noted that actor Denver Pyle aka Dukes of Hazzard star Uncle Jesse played Briscoe Darling, the band’s father. Maggie Peterson played Charlene Darling and got some show interest from Ernest T. Bass (Howard Morris). Later, the group visited Mayberry for the 1986 “Return to Mayberry” show.

After that, Rodney Dillard said the record companies didn’t know how to market them.

The band toured the world, even performing with legendary artist Elton John in 1972.

Years later, Dillard says he’s still amazed that these Ozark kids became a small part of the “Andy Griffith Show.” He called the show “a campfire on a cold, Winter’s night.”

“I’m so glad we had the Andy Griffith Show to relate to,” Dillard said.

The group is based in the Ozarks (Branson) but plays world shows.

The band has 16 albums since 1963, with the most recent one, “Old Road New Again” coming out in 2020.

Outsider.com