Andy Griffith Explained How Randy Travis Influenced His Best-Selling 1996 Hymns Album

by Jennifer Shea
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Country and gospel singer Randy Travis helped actor Andy Griffith to become a best-selling singer. But he was just returning the favor: Griffith had taught him how to act.

In fact, if it weren’t for Travis, Griffith’s 1996 album of hymns, “I Love to Tell the Story,” would never have come to pass. At least, that’s what Griffith said on an episode of Ralph Emery’s “On the Record” which aired in 1996.

Travis appeared on the show via satellite and related how Griffith gave him acting lessons on the set of “Matlock.” Griffith, for his part, said he owed his best-selling album of hymns that had sold over a million copies at that point to Travis.

“I’m in your business now, Randy,” Griffith said.

How Andy Griffith Got a Best-Selling Hymns Album

Emery then explained to Travis that he had played a role in Griffith’s album coming to fruition. He invited Griffith to elaborate.

“When [Grammy-winning record producer] Steve Tyrell came down to pre-record you, he came in my dressing room and played me a song he was gonna sing with the Glendale Symphony,” Griffith said. “And I knew Steve slightly. And I brought out an old record I had made, ‘When They Ring Golden Bells for You and Me,’ about 20 years ago. I said, ‘I sure would like to try that again sometime.’ Never thought another thing about it.”

“Steve was having dinner with one of the big shots there in Nashville one night,” he continued. “Got to talking about it, and the next thing you know, I’m in [Capitol Christian Music Group founder and chairman] Billy Ray Hearn’s office picking out hymns. And Steve produced it.”

“I’m just tickled to death with it,” Griffith added of the album. “It has sold over a million, you believe that?”

Travis then revealed that he and Andy Griffith had sung together on set and onscreen. They sang “New River Train.”

Watch the interview here:

Griffith Recorded Multiple Christian Albums

Andy Griffith died in July of 2012 at age 86. But while he lived, he was a devout man who believed strongly in letting God guide him through life.

“I firmly believe that in every situation, no matter how difficult, God extends grace greater than the hardship, and strength and peace of mind that can lead us to a place higher than where we were before,” Griffith wrote in the Christian magazine Guideposts in 1996.

Griffith wound up recording multiple albums of Christian hymns later in his life. Those included “Precious Memories,” “I Love to Tell the Story,” “Just As I Am,” “The Christmas Guest” and “Bound for the Promised Land: The Best of Andy Griffith Hymns.” Griffith won a Grammy Award for “I Love to Tell the Story” in 1996. It was quite an achievement for the actor, who was reportedly once told at an audition that his voice was unpleasant and he’d never find a place in musical theater.    

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