Can you imagine walking into a nightclub to watch Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, and Jim Nabors perform, only to end up booing the title actor of “The Andy Griffith Show” off-stage? It sounds unbelievable. The late Andy Griffith is seen as a national treasure these days. But according to him, there was a time when crowds wanted to see one of his co-stars perform so badly that they didn’t hesitate to rush Andy off the stage.
The popularity of “The Andy Griffith Show” led to plenty of opportunities for the talented cast. Andy Griffith and Don Knotts were professional comedians, after all. And once Jim Nabors joined the show in 1962, the sky was the limit in terms of the group’s entertainment value. What’s more, they shared the same manager at the time. So, easily packaged, the trio hit the road with live stage performances that could only be described as variety shows.
Andy would come out and do one of his comedy monologues, and he’d pass it over to Don Knotts. Then they would perform some sketches together. And finally, they would turn the stage over to Jim Nabors. And at the first show they did, Nabors was still brand new to the entertainment industry. Lacking prepared material, Nabors did what no one at the venue knew he could do. He sang.
‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Newcomer Blew Audiences Away
In a 1996 interview with “Ralph Emery on the Record,” Griffith recalled that specific tour the group did together.
“Nobody knew he could sing. He was just new on the Griffith Show. And he came out in the gas station outfit, with the ball cap and the rag in his pocket, and the pencils… And I said, ‘Well, Gomer. Now that you’re here, what would you like to do?’ He said, ‘I don’t know,'” Andy Griffith said.
After Nabors shied away from performing a joke and dancing, he finally agreed to sing. From the moment he started singing, Griffith said that you could feel the audience rising out of their seats. Nabors’ performance was electric.
“He just had gotten in the business. And I’d come back out on stage and they booed me every show,” Griffith continued in his 1996 interview.
The people just wanted to hear Jim Nabors sing. It wasn’t anything personal. Still, the immense talent was a good sign for Nabors moving forward on “The Andy Griffith Show.” And if it’s any consolation, crowds went crazy for the song performances that included all three of the show’s stars, too.