Entertainment

Andy Griffith and Elvis Presley Appeared Together in a 1956 Comedy Sketch

AP Photo/Nick Ut and AP Photo

Long before Confederate Railroad paired Andy Griffith and Elvis Presley together in song, the future pop culture icons shared screen time on NBC's The Steve Allen Show.

On the same July 1, 1956 episode during which Allen laughed with (or at, depending on the source) the king of rock 'n' roll by having him tone down his pelvis thrusting and sing to a basset hound, Griffith appeared as an up-and-coming comedian.

Though Presley was already causing a stir and Griffith's "What It Was, Was Football" was a comedy hit three years prior, neither Graceland nor Mayberry were yet on the cultural map. Indeed, Presley had yet to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show, and classic sitcom The Andy Griffith Show wouldn't introduce America to Sheriff Andy Taylor, Barney Fife, Opie and Aunt Bee until 1960.

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A skit teaming Allen with Imogene Coca, Griffith and Presley poked fun at some of the earliest country music variety TV shows. "Rattlesnake Griffith" and "Tumbleweed Presley" lampoon local, small-screen cowboys: the type that'd appear on TV surrounded by hay bales while shilling products like Tonto Bars. (Per Tumbleweed: "Dentists recommend Tonto Bars, because tests prove that Tonto Bars cause more cavities than any other candy bar.")

As for that Confederate Railroad song, "Elvis and Andy" was co-written by Craig Wiseman, a Nashville songwriter whose credits span from Roy Orbison's 1989 album Mystery Girl to Kenny Chesney's 2020 offering Here and Now. In Wiseman's mind, its lyrics were ready-made for Confederate Railroad singer Danny Shirley.

"In a perfect world, I could get producer Barry Beckett to cut it for Confederate Railroad," Wiseman told the Tennessean in October 1994. "Barry Beckett is the guy who got me going. He believed in me and told me to keep writing off-the-wall stuff. Confederate Railroad, I just love those guys."

Wiseman's wish came true when "Elvis and Andy" appeared on Confederate Railroad's Beckett-produced album Notorious. The 1994 release also featured the songs "Hunger Pains," "Three Verses" and the single "Summer in Dixie."

"Elvis and Andy's" mix of laughs and legitimate nostalgia for the king of Memphis and the sheriff of Mayberry made it Confederate Railroad's seventh straight top 30 single.

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Andy Griffith and Elvis Presley Appeared Together in a 1956 Comedy Sketch