‘The Andy Griffith Show’: One Actor Lied About Musical Skills to Get on the Show

by Katie Maloney

Did you know that Andy Griffith loved to play the guitar? In fact, several episodes of The Andy Griffith Show featured Andy picking the guitar.

But Andy didn’t hog all the musical spotlight. The Andy Griffith Show featured several musical acts during episodes of the show including the Darlings, a musically inclined family that lived in a mountain shack somewhere near Mayberry. But there’s one performer that stands out among the rest – and not because of his musical talents. The episodes titled “The Guitar Player” and “The Guitar Player Returns” feature actor Jim Best as Jim Lindsey, a skilled musician who visits Mayberry.

During the episode, the guitar player’s picking skills are featured several times and Sheriff Taylor is quite impressed by the man. However, in real life, Best couldn’t play a lick! In fact, he lied to producers in order to land the part on The Andy Griffith Show.

Reports say, producers of The Andy Griffith Show called Best and offered him a guest-starring role on the show. The only thing they asked was, “Can you play guitar?” Best replied, “Are you kidding? I have two guitars!”

So, producers took his word for it and cast him for the role. However, when Best arrived on set and was handed a guitar, he had to fess up. Obviously, producers weren’t happy and claimed that he lied. However, Best quickly corrected them – “I said I had two guitars!”

Jim Best as the Guitar Player in The Andy Griffith Show

Jim Best Couldn’t Actually Play Guitar For His Role On ‘The Andy Griffith Show’

Nevertheless, The Andy Griffith Show producers made it work. With a little editing magic, editors were able to replace the songs with sounds from Barney Kessel, a guitarist for the Wrecking Crew. Aren’t familiar with the Wrecking Crew? They were the legendary ensemble that backed bands including the Beach Boys and the Monkees on studio recordings. Barney Kessel played guitar for Sonny & Cher’s “The Beat Goes On.”

Kessel and best worked together to create a realistic depiction of guitar playing during the episodes. However, acute fans noticed a discrepancy in the scene. During the performance at the beginning of “The Guitar Player Returns,” Best strums an acoustic guitar. However, when you listen to the song, it’s obviously an electric guitar that Kessel’s playing.

In reality, even if Best did know how to play the guitar, he didn’t stand a chance against Barney Kessel’s skills. So, it all worked out in the end, Jim Best got a part on The Andy Griffith Show, and the show got a successful guitar player – just in a roundabout way.