Buddy Ebsen's daughter Kiki has the tiniest part in this Back to the Future scene
Marty McFly had some notable competition in the Battle of the Bands.
Image: Universal Pictures
Marty McFly rocked too hard. He shredded "Johnny B. Goode" when stuck in 1955, causing teens at the sock hop to cover their ears. That's an unforgettable scene in Back to the Future, but it's not the only time we see Michael J. Fox finger-tap through an '80s guitar solo in the beloved film.
Early in the movie, about eight minutes in, Marty auditions for the Battle of the Bands in the Hill Valley High School gymnasium. He fronts The Pinheads, a group with loads of denim, hair and volume. The quartet rips through a metal cover of Huey Lewis and the News' "The Power of Love."
One of the judges interrupts them with a bullhorn. The band screeches to a halt. "I'm afraid you're just too darn loud," the bespectacled judge tells them. The joke, of course, is that this square adult is portrayed by none other than Huey Lewis himself.
But Huey Lewis is not the only celebrity cameo in the scene.
We turn to an interview from the 2011 book Raised by the Stars: Interviews with 29 Children of Hollywood Actors. Author Nick Thomas chats with Kiki Ebsen, daughter of Buddy Ebsen, star of The Beverly Hillbillies and Barnaby Jones. Thomas asks if Kiki, one of the actor's six daughters, ever appeared in her father's TV shows or movies.
"I appeared as a pianist in a TV movie with my sister, Bonnie, that my dad wrote called The Paradise Connection (1979)," she answers. "But really, I've only had a few, mostly uncredited, parts."
One of those happens to be the Battle of the Bands scene in Back to the Future.
"It was an early scene with Huey Lewis when the bands are being auditioned and there were a bunch of musicians standing around," Kiki explains. "I was one of them."
Well, that we had to see. There are only three other bands visible in the gym. Marty jogs pasts a bunch of punky new-wavers and he heads up to the stage. They are all boys. There are some headbanger dudes with big hair and black leather in the background behind Jennifer, Marty's girlfriend, too. Just one all-female trio can be seen, waiting behind a red drumset. The bored drummer rests with her chin on her fist. The saxophone player sits behind a tom. And one woman stands, holding a bass. They're out of focus, but we believe that is Kiki.
In her real-life musical career, Kiki Ebsen primarily plays the piano. As a freelance keyboardist, she jammed with everyone from Chicago to Tracy Chapman. Today, she focuses more on jazz standards — her dad's preferred genre — and tours with tributes to her famous father.
Around the time of Back to the Future, Kiki released a split single titled "Dreaming." You can tell it's the mid-'80s from the synthesizer-heavy production. Take a listen.
After Buddy Ebsen passed away, Kiki recorded an album of jazz standards in tribute to her dad, The Scarecrow Sessions. It included a tune written by Buddy. It was called "Missing You." Listen to it here.