Andy Griffith ''became somebody'' when playing the trombone
One day, a slide trombone changed it all.
We all know that Andy Griffith was a skilled musician. Anybody who has seen him pick up a guitar on The Andy Griffith Show has seen the ways his Southern charm can light up a melody. Not everybody knows, though, that it was actually a different instrument altogether that changed Griffith's path forever.
Rewind, if you will, to the year 1940, and we'll find ourselves in Mount Airy, North Carolina, where a young Andy Griffith is about to make a life-changing discovery. At the time, the 14-year-old Griffith was considering a career in the church, where he intended to be a preacher. However, the music he heard at the Haymore Memorial Baptist Church excited him so much that it genuinely altered the way the rest of his life would play out.
"When I was 14, I got a slide trombone from the Spiegel catalog and had no idea what to do with it," Griffith told the Baraboo, Wisconsin News Republic. "We didn't have a music program in my school in Mount Airy."
What was a young trombone owner to do? With the right equipment but none of the know-how, the new instrument would've been useless. Luckily, a family connection led the young Griffith to Rev. Ed Mickey, a local pastor who taught boys how to play horns.
"He didn't know about slide trombones, but I had a book that came with my horn," said Griffith. "When I first got that horn, I tried to pick out 'The Old Rugged Cross.' I don't think I got it, but I approached it. He said 'Leave this book and come back next Wednesday,' I did and he started teaching me. Within two months, I played a solo in church. It was great."
With just that tiny taste of the limelight, Griffith's career aspirations shifted. Performance became his outlet. Moving a crowd became his number one priority.
"When music came into my life, with the trombone and the singing, I became somebody. That is, I became an individual, where an athlete is a real individual or a fine student is a real individual."