‘The Andy Griffith Show’: The Darlings Family on Show Was Portrayed by a Real Bluegrass Band

by Joe Rutland
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When watching “The Andy Griffith Show” and the Darlings appear, they play bluegrass music pretty good. It’s no wonder because they’re pros.

Let’s briefly back up. Actor Denver Pyle portrayed family matriarch Briscoe Darling when they’d show up in Mayberry. Actress Maggie Peterson portrayed daughter Charlene Darling, who would sing at times. But the Darling brothers? Oh man, they were bluegrass group The Dillards.

They always appeared silent, never saying a word. Their facial looks were about as droll as a bloodhound on a hot summer day. Anyway, The Dillards were made up of Doug Dillard, Rodney Dillard, Dean Webb, and Mitch Jayne. Doug played banjo, Rodney played guitar, Dean played mandolin, and Mitch played the bass.

‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Mixed In Music Thanks To The Dillards

Their appearances on “The Andy Griffith Show” provided more music opportunities in the midst of comedy. In at least one of their appearances, Griffith, who could really play guitar in real life, joined the Darlings, er, The Dillards and played along.

Today, The Dillards are still performing around the United States. Only Rodney Dillard remains alive from the original lineup. Doug Dillard, Webb, and Jayne have all died since their time as the Darlings on TV. The group remains true to its bluegrass roots, though.

One other tidbit of Dillard’s trivia for you. They were the first bluegrass band to electrify their instruments in the mid-1960s. Music diehards may remember the ruckus caused by Bob Dylan upon plugging in his guitar at the Newport Folk Festival. Well, The Dillards added their name to the list of electrified musicians going from acoustic to plugged in.

Anyway, enjoy this piece of work The Dillards, as the Darlings, put on during an appearance on “The Andy Griffith Show.”

Griffith Didn’t Want Lines In Script To Sound Like Jokes, Knotts Said

Andy Griffith was focusing on having a small-town feel for Mayberry, dating back to the 1930s. His desire was to keep “The Andy Griffith Show” characters, as he tells NBC’s Matt Lauer in an interview in 1996, “pure.” He never wanted a joke to be used if it made a character look like he or she just lied.

Knotts said, “Andy used to say, ‘If it sounds like a joke, throw it out.'”

What Griffith apparently wanted was something that followed along the lines of his own style of comedy. He would keep his own stand-up routines pretty clean, not giving any hint about anything being “blue.” The term means simply that he wouldn’t use foul language or sexual innuendos in his routines.

One can watch “The Andy Griffith Show” and feel safe from that type of stuff, too.

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