‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Griffith Described ‘Gomer Pyle’ Actor Jim Nabors’ Singing as ‘Hair Raising’

by Joe Rutland

While “The Andy Griffith Show” was on CBS, sometimes even Andy Griffith is left speechless. For instance, take Jim Nabors and his singing.

Griffith remembers vividly the first time he heard Nabors, who played Gomer Pyle, sing with Griffith and his costar Don Knotts present. It was a hair-raising experience for the show’s star.

Back in 1963, Griffith and Knotts would perform on the road as a duo.

This one date had them scheduled at Harrah’s Club in Lake Tahoe. Nabors had recently joined the show, so they brought him along.

‘Andy Griffith Show’ Star Leaves Crowd Speechless

As Griffith tells the story, his act with Knotts was much like a buddy-buddy one. Griffith would go on first, then Knotts would come out, and they’d finish up together. This time, though, they had Nabors too.

He came out on the stage wearing his “Gomer” hat, giving people a clue as to who it was from “The Andy Griffith Show.”

Griffith, according to an article on ME.tv, asked Nabors if he’d like to tell a joke or dance. Nabors said no. When asked if he’d like to sing, Nabors said yes.

“That boy started to sing and you could feel the hair rising on everybody in the audience,” Griffith said. “And he only had 14 minutes of material. He’d just gotten into the business. He was a business major in school.”

There is no word as to what Nabors specifically sang at Harrah’s that night so many years ago.

If you’d like a sample of Jim Nabors’ singing talents, then take a look at this clip of him performing “Back Home Again In Indiana.” For decades, Nabors sang this before the start of the famed Indianapolis 500 in Indianapolis, Ind.

Nabors Had Role On His Show Thanks To Its Star

Andy Griffith had a bit of an eye for talent. This is especially true when it comes to making a role for Jim Nabors on “The Andy Griffith Show.”

One night in the early 1960s, Griffith caught Nabors on stage in Los Angeles. Nabors, at the time, was doing his best to break into the entertainment industry.

Now in Nabors’ act, he would play several characters…including one that had a bit of a hillbilly touch. Griffith recalled his early days, too, had a similar character.

After running through some characters, Nabors would sing. Griffith saw a connection between his own style and that of Nabors.

He reached out to his show’s writers and asked them to create Gomer Pyle, a naive local mechanic at Mayberry’s gas station. The rest is entertainment history, leading to Nabors having his own spinoff series, “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.”