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The Andy Griffith Show Theme Song

| July 3, 2012 | 20 Comments

Andy Griffith passed away this morning at the age of 86. With scores of roles to his credit—from Broadway to the Silver Screen to Matlock—the character that he is, of course, best known for is that of Sheriff Andy Taylor, the loveably laid-back peacekeeper of the fictional town of Mayberry.

Anyone who grew up watching 60s television knows that a show’s theme song was as important as the actors or the script—the first and last thing the audience heard. The Andy Griffith Show‘s theme was written by Earle Hagen and Herbert Spencer with (rarely heard) lyrics by Everett Sloane. Hagen— who also composed themes for The Dick Van Dyke Show, I Spy, The Mod Squad and That Girl—wrote what he considered his most tossed-off for this one. He said of the whistled melody, aka “The Fishin’ Hole,” “I realized what the show needed was a simple tune. So I spent all of 15 minutes writing it. I called my bass player and drummer, and we recorded it in a little studio in Hollywood. I whistled the tune myself.”

Farewell, Andy. Thanks for all them memories, smiles and whistles. You will be missed.

Category: Behind The Song

Comments (20)

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  1. Eric says:

    Anyone know who the musicians that performed the theme are ?

  2. Rog says:

    Does anyone know why the opening “Fishing Hole” theme and the closing one are in different keys? (G and Eb, I think)

    • Nancy says:

      The may have needed to stretch it and when slowed (remember tape?) ends up in Eb.

    • Ben Gahzey says:

      The day they recorded the G version, the whistlers shorts were much tighter than on the day they did the Eb version. And there you have it !!

  3. Bonnie says:

    I have 2 African Greys and this is their favorite tune and the love to whistle along. Elvis and Fonzy this is for you

  4. Bob says:

    I have heard the Andy Griffin theme many times and the more I hear it the more it sounds like “Happy Whistler” written and first recorded by Don Roberson based on an Elvis song “La Paloma”. The best version may be done by Glen Yarbrough

    • Marko says:

      You must have a tin ear. The Happy Whistler sounds nothing like the Fishin’ Hole except that they’re both whistled – at least the most popular versions. Nor does the Happy Whistler sound anything like La Paloma.

  5. Joe Blow says:

    I have an early episode downloaded ( Opie brings a lost dog to the sheriff office and the inspector comes the same day) The theme song is very different . It is whistled and has similar gitar and bass. But the melody is certainly different.
    I only found one reference to the song having to versions- both the same melody , but one done more punchy-

    What gives? Was there an differnt melody for some of the episodes? Perhaps for syndication in a differnt country.

    • John S. says:

      We have M*A*S*H discs, and one first year episode has bigger build up of horns and a clearly different sound than others from the same year. Sometimes good enough is not left alone.

    • Watching old episodes now. Totally different theme song. No whistleing.

    • Tony says:

      There’s a “Royalty free” version of several sitcoms like Andy Griffith and Beverly Hillbillies where the theme songs are replaced with similar royalty free songs. This makes the shows much cheaper to purchase for reruns.

  6. Ken B says:

    Having just finished reading a good fifty postings as to just who whistled the theme, I am agreement with the vast majority in saying it was Fred Lowery. Like so many others, I too had the privilege of hearing him perform a long program at my high school in the late 60s. He whistled the “fishing hole” theme and many other famous tunes that day and proved he could hit a note 3 notes higher than the highest note on a piano. To say he could whistle is like saying Frank Sinatra could sing. If he wasn’t the true whistler of the theme, don’t you think he would have been sued and had an injunction against ever making the claim again after stating it on the road for so many years?

  7. Billy bob says:

    Yes the simpler times when we did not have to listen to Ted whine about his problems and everyone took care of their own weight. My name is Ted and I want you to donate to my cause. Wah wah wah I am crying tears.

  8. Ted says:

    Yeah, the “simpler times” of unrestricted nuclear testing, repression of minority rights, invasion of other countries and the whole scale prosecution of meaningless political parties (communist). It wasn’t so great being black, gay or a free thinker because your “standards and values” did not get represented.

    However, Andy Griffith was a great show!

  9. Cynthia says:

    Oh, for the more simple times, standards and values. It’s a shame people think it necessary to complicate things.

    Andy will be sorely missed by his friends and family. But we, his family who have never met him or interacted with him, will always have him via TV, DVD’s and memories in our hearts.

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