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The Darlings were actually The Dillards on 'The Andy Griffith Show

by Cheryl E Preston about a year ago in entertainment · updated about a year ago
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The bluegrass-playing sibling were part of a real-life band.

The Darling family and Andy

On THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW, there was a group of characters known as The Darling family. They lived in the mountains just beyond Mayberry and consisted of widower Briscoe Darling, his daughter, and four sons. The young men did not talk and only starred but they were a really great band. What they lacked in verbal skills they definitely made up for with their music.

The brothers were portrayed by an actual bluegrass group known as The Dillards. The only time their voices were heard was when they were singing and they were very talented musicians. They had really goofy clueless looks on their faces and their names changed during the 6 episodes where they were seen. Andy would often throw a question their way and they would give him the deer in the headlights look.

The original script for the episode "Mountain Wedding" listed "the boys" names as Oether, Jebbin, Ward, and Frankie. Only Jebin and Oether were mentioned on THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW. In another episode, Andy refers to them as Mitch, Dean, Rodney, and Doug which are the real first names of the men who portrayed Briscoe Darling's (Denver Pyle)sons.

As the members of The Dillards, they were two brothers who were joined by two friends. Doug Dillard played banjo, and his sibling Rodney Dillard was on guitar. Dean Webb was on mandolin, and Mitch Jayne played bass. On the television series Andy and Briscoe Darling usually just referred to them collectively as "the boys". Their silence was golden and made their facial exressions all the more interesting.

When The Darlings performed they usually had one brother singing lead and the other three doing harmonies unless their sister Charlene (Maggie Peterson) was singing. The family patriarch Brisco Darling would join in by blowing into his jug. In the episode "Mountain Wedding", Andy sarcastically remarked, "The boys are talkative today." Briscoe totally missed the irony, and responded with "They's all keyed up". Viewers enjoyed these strong silent men.

After Charlene gave birth to Andelina Andy said, "You boys must be proud to be uncles." They remained silent with their signature blank stares and Briscoe replied "They all choked up." Something that viewers may not have aid attention to is that Mitch Jayne's character was never shown without a pipe in his mouth. The Darlings were in the following episodes of THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW.

The Darlings Are Coming March 18, 1963

Mountain Wedding April 29, 1963

Briscoe Declares for Aunt Bee October 28, 1963

Divorce, Mountain Style March 30, 1964

The Darling Baby December 7, 1964

The Darling Fortune October 17, 1966

The Dillards were already established as a bluegrass band when Andy Griffith hired them for his television series. There have been many additions to the group over the years but the four original members are alive today. The Dillards are noted for being one of the first bluegrass groups during the mid-1969s to electrify their instruments. They are also considered to be one of the pioneers of southern California folk rock, country rock, and progressive bluegrass.

In 1972, The Dillards joined Elton John during his first American tour and the rock superstar has admitted to being influenced by the bluegrass band. John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin also acknowledged their influence and admitted the group is why he decided to play the mandolin. The band is also said to have directly or indirectly influenced artists such as The Byrds and The Eagles.

The Dillards had hits with songs such as "Back Porch Bluegrass", Live Almos!!! and "Copperfield Suit." THE ANDY GRIFFITH show has never been off the air in 61 years and currently can be seen on MeTV and TVland. You might also be able to catch episodes on other channels so check your local listings.


About the author

Cheryl E Preston

Cheryl is a poet, freelance writer, published author and former Newspaper columnist. She has degrees in Psycology and Biblical studies. She enjoys sharing natural cures, and Nostalgia related info. Tips are greatly appreciated.

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