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Johnny B. Goode

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"I guess you guys aren't ready for that yet. But your kids are gonna love it."
—Marty
Johnnybgoode

Marty busts out a song and style never heard of before.

Martygoescrazy

Marty gets erratic with the guitar.

Johnny B. Goode was the signature song performed by Marty McFly and the Starlighters at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance on November 12, 1955. Marty introduced the song as "an oldie", and instructed the band to play a blues riff for a backup. To the audience and the band it was like nothing they had ever heard of before, to which Marvin Berry called his cousin Chuck Berry and let him listen to the new sound. As Marty got more erratic with his guitar playing, the audience and band stopped dancing and covered their ears at his last high note. Marty then realized that the audience "wasn't ready for that yet, but their kids will be."

The Scene

The videos below comprise the scene described above.

Back to the Future - Ready to play02:00

Back to the Future - Ready to play

Back to the Future - johnny b01:10

Back to the Future - johnny b. goode Part 2

Back to the Future: The Game

  • If you click on the microphone in the Speakeasy, Marty will start to sing "Johnny B. Goode" on-stage, only to stop before the first lyric.[1]

Behind the scenes

  • "Johnny B. Goode" was actually composed and first performed by Chuck Berry in March 1958.
  • Michael J. Fox's performance of the song is one of the signature moments of Back to the Future. Marty's singing was dubbed by Mark Campbell. Fox asked guitarist Paul Hanson to teach him the precise sequence of chords, so that it would appear that Marty's guitar playing would match with the soundtrack. However, guitarist Tim May, rather than Hanson, recorded the actual music. Hanson appeared on film as the bass guitarist for The Pinheads.
  • During the part where Marvin is calling Chuck Berry, Marty starts doing Chuck's famous "duckwalk". Afterwards he imitates three other famous guitarists: he taps the guitar like Eddie Van Halen, kicks the amplifier like Pete Townshend, and contorts himself on the ground like Angus Young.
  • On the final guitar solo, we can hear riffs and melodic structures from some of the most important rock music genres made until mid 1980s on progressive sucesion: Rock 'n roll (late 1950s), Surf Rock (early 1960s), Hard Rock (late 1960s - early 1970s), Heavy Metal (mid 1970s) and Thrash Metal (early 1980s)
  • Despite Marty's instructions, both Chuck Berry's original recording and the rendition heard in the film are actually played on a "B flat" blues scale, not "B". Nevertheless, Marty's fingers do appear to be playing the song on the "B" blues scale in the film (assuming the guitar is using standard tuning).
  • On the commentary of the first film, Robert Zemeckis confirmed that the "Johnny B. Goode" scene was nearly cut from the finished film because according to him, it was the only place in the film where the storyline stopped for Michael J. Fox to do the performance. However, Arthur Schmidt, one of the editors of Back to the Future, suggested keeping the scene for the preview screening of the film, and it was finally left in the finished film.
  • Technically speaking, since Marty performed the song before the actual song was written by Chuck Berry in 1958, yet Marty learned the song from Chuck Berry's recording of it, that makes this a Bootstrap Paradox.

Reference

  1. Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 2: Get Tannen!

Appearances

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