Coldplay and Michael J. Fox did a rocking and rolling version of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” in New York at the packed MetLife Stadium. This song of course has special significance for the actor, as his character Marty McFly memorably played guitar on “Johnny B. Goode” in the iconic ballroom dance scene in Back to the Future.
In the blockbuster smash hit, Fox goes buckwild, playing the guitar like Jimi Hendrix to an astonished high school dance crowd from 1955 – three years before the song was released. Not one to let fans down, Fox again went crazy onstage with Coldplay, busting out all the moves, as well as displaying impressive lead guitar skills for an actor.
Coldplay clearly had a lot of fun recreating the famous silver screen moment as well, with frontman Chris Martin giving his best shot at being an old time rock and roller while sporting a big grin the whole time. The video, which showcases quite a stylistic shift for the alternative rock band, was well-received online, with 13 million listeners tuning in on YouTube.
Fox’s high energy performance is particularly impressive as he had received a Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis in 1991 and was told at the time he had “ten good working years left”. It seems like he outdid the doctor’s prognosis by quite a few decades there. Check out Fox’s take on “Johnny B. Goode” in Back to the Future below.
Fox originally learned guitar specifically so he could do that scene convincingly. Session guitarist Tim May played the guitar parts you hear, but Fox had guitarist Paul Hanson teach him guitar for real so the scene would come off right on camera. It seems he’s been practicing in the years since because he is quite fleet-fingered in the Coldplay video.
Fox said he worked on the performance for four weeks with Madonna’s choreographer to get the movements right. In an interview with Empire, the actor recalled that he wanted to “incorporate all the characteristics, mannerisms and quirks of my favorite guitarists, so a Pete Townshend windmill, a Jimi Hendrix behind the back and a Chuck Berry duck walk. And we worked all that in, and he made it flow.”
“Johnny B. Goode” was originally written and recorded by Chuck Berry in 1958. The song peaked at #8 on the US Billboard national chart and has been covered by a huge array of artists in the years since, including Jimi Hendrix, who had a posthumous hit with his live version.
“Johnny B. Goode” was pivotal in the development of rock and roll and is noted as the first hit about rock and roll stardom.
The song recounts the tale of a country boy from humble origins in the New Orleans area who can play the guitar “just like ringing a bell” and is destined for stardom. Berry loosely based the character on the story of his own life, although he borrowed the name of his piano player Johnny Johnson for the song’s title. If you would like to see more from Coldplay, you can subscribe to their YouTube channel. You can also visit their official website for more information.