When ZZ Top Went 'Back to the Future'

ZZ Top's "Doubleback" single
Photo Credit
Warner Records

When fans flocked to the multiplex to catch the third and final Back to the Future film on May 25, 1990, they might've caught some familiar faces when Marty McFly and Doc Brown visit a festival in their native Hill Valley in 1885 (a full century from whence they came). The night's swingin', bearded musical accompaniment were none other than the boys from ZZ Top. And if the facial hair didn't give it away, their signature instrument rotation (a la the video for "Legs") probably did.

When the first Back to the Future film hit theaters in 1985, ZZ Top were riding high, prepping Afterburner (the follow-up to 1983's pop breakthrough Eliminator) and starring in some eye-catching videos on MTV. With Huey Lewis and The News scoring a No. 1 single with "The Power of Love" from the first movie's soundtrack (and Huey himself making a cameo in the first film as an unimpressed high school teacher who rejects Marty's bid to play the school dance), putting that little ol' band from Texas in the picture seemed natural. And as you'll see from this behind-the-scenes footage below, everyone seemed to have a great time.

READ MORE: March 1983: ZZ Top Released "Eliminator"

Of course, the song the group played in the film, "Doubleback," also played over the end credits - sounded nothing like the square dance-ready instrumental heard in the film. But even with that classic guitar sound ZZ Top fans had come to expect, "Doubleback" missed the Top 40 entirely, reaching No. 50 on the Billboard Hot 100. (To be fair, "Sharp Dressed Man" only peaked a few spots lower in 1983.) But it did become the band's third chart-topper on the magazine's mainstream rock survey - and one of three songs from 1990's Recycler to reach that peak. And to BTTF fans more than three decades later, it's a classic no matter what year you're in.

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(Gary Null/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)
The song peaked just weeks after Croce was killed in a plane crash.
Rich Fury/WireImage
"I feel like I died and yet, I was able to come to the funeral and see the tributes," the guitarist reflected.
(Ollie Millington/Redferns)
The electric performance was captured at a show in the band's hometown of Jacksonville, Florida.

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