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- "Onstage were the band, Marvin Berry and the Starlighters. All five men were black, consisting of drummer, piano player, sax and bass, with Marvin himself playing guitar and singing. Now he was rendering the popular melody from the motion picture Three Coins in the Fountain. On the dance floor, several hundred young men and women, elegantly dressed, leaned against one another and moved in torpid time to the music."
- —From Back to the Future by George Gipe (quote, pages 201 and 202)
- " Leaping out of the car, he [Bob Jordan] walked quickly over to the two white boys. / "Say, what you messin' with my car for?" he demanded. / "Beat it, spook," 3-D shot back. "This don't concern you." / "It sure does if you're screwin' around with my car trunk," Jordan said in a firm, slightly raised voice. "And who are you callin' spook, peckerwood?" / Despite being outnumbered, he advanced towards 3-D and Skinhead, who took a step backwards. A moment later, Marvin Berry and the other three band members appeared from the back entrance of the gymnasium. / "What's goin' on?" Berry asked. / "They called me spook," Jordan said. "And I was about to ask them if they wanted a couple of new breathin' holes in their faces." / "Hey, I don't want to mess with no reefer addicts," Skinhead muttered. / "Reefer addicts, huh?" Berry said, taking a step toward them. / By that time, Skinhead and 3-D were ten feet away and running as fast as they could. "
- —From Back to the Future by George Gipe (quote, pages 212 and 213)
Marvin Berry and the Starlighters was a band led by Marvin Berry.
The band performed at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance on November 12, 1955. Marvin played the guitar and was the lead vocalist, while another member, Reginald, played the drums. The other three played the piano, the bass fiddle and the saxophone. The band took a break shortly before 9:00 in the evening, and went out to Reginald's car to smoke. When Marty McFly was locked in the trunk of their car during their break by Match, Skinhead, and 3-D, the band demanded to know why the bullies were messing with their car, which was the private property of the band. Biff's gang responded with racist taunts and accusations of drug abuse ("spook" and "reefer addicts" by 3-D and Skinhead respectively). These slurs enraged the band, who chased away the gang. Marvin did not participate in that, as he heard shouting from the trunk and attempted to free the captive. He asked Reginald for his keys, but Reginald said he could not find them. Marty shouted that the keys were in the trunk.
Marvin attempted to jimmy open the trunk with a screwdriver, but badly cut his left hand when the tool slipped. This caused Marvin to call it a night, since he couldn't play guitar with an injured hand. However, Marty stepped forward to take over on guitar, while Marvin continued to sing.
After "Earth Angel", the band joined Marty in an upbeat tune that was to be a rock 'n' roll classic, "Johnny B. Goode". However, as Marty segued over to heavy metal, the Starlighters gave up on trying to figure out where he was going, and Marty concluded the act on his own, to the confusion of the audience.
Behind the scenes
- In the Back to the Future first draft screenplay, the band was called Lester Moon and the Midnighters.
- The Starlighters were played by Harry Waters, Jr. (as Marvin), Tommy Thomas, Granville "Danny" Young, David Harold Brown, and Lloyd L. Tolbert.
- The band "Joey Dee and the Starliters" (with a somewhat different spelling) would have a #1 hit in early 1962 with the song "The Peppermint Twist".
- Due to the racist connotations of the term 'spook', which is a derogatory term for African-Americans, the British espionage TV drama show Spooks (2002-2011) was renamed MI-5 when the screening rights were sold to the United States. The show's movie sequel Spooks: The Greater Good (2015) was also renamed MI-5 for the U.S. market, for the same reason.