was first approached to write a song for a movie in 1983 by Ivan Reitman
and the team working on the supernatural spectacular Ghostbusters
. The band turned the film down, which led to the movie studio hiring Ray Parker Jr.
to write a "Huey Lewis
-type song". When the band
heard the song, it was immediately evident to them that Parker
had stolen the bass line from I Want A New Drug
. A lengthy court battle followed, but the importance of this case to the song The Power of Love
is that when Hollywood came calling in early 1985 in the form of Robert Zemeckis
and Bob Gale
, the band decided that if their music was going to be ripped off for movies they should at least get paid for it. The film in question was Back to the Future
The band went to work and in early 1985 turned in their song for the film. Unfortunately it was not what the director was looking for. As a demo he looped I Want A New Drug up against the opening of the film when Marty McFly skateboards into the courthouse square area of Hill Valley, brought Huey in, and told him that this was the kind of song they were looking for. "Oh," Huey said, "You wanted something in a major key!" The band went back to work and came up with the classic tune we know today, The Power of Love (on their own initiative the band also put together Back in Time which was used during the film's end credits).
The Power of Love's music video went into heavy rotation on MTV where Huey Lewis and the News were the station's most popular group. The video intercut between Huey explaining to an audience at a concert about how he and the band had written a song for a movie and Doc Brown pulling up to the concert arena in the DeLorean. He offers it up for valet parking, and the excited teens take the car for a joyride through time. Where they go is inconsequential, it seems, as the video follows Doc Brown into the concert where he's just in time to hear the song (this video is available on the Back to the Future II DVD). The song also went into heavy rotation on FM radio in the summer of 1985 and the marketing crew at Universal Studios made every effort to be sure that the DJs announced that the song was from the new film Back to the Future (since the title of the song was not the title of the movie, the studio wanted to be sure to link the two together in the minds of the audience). Apparently this announcement order has stuck over the years, as even today DJs still mention that the song is from Back to the Future when it receives airplay.
As for The Power of Love's appearances in the Back to the Future Trilogy itself, the song plays when Marty McFly skateboards into the courthouse square area in Back to the Future (as mentioned above) as well as during The Battle of the Bands audition (cameo alert: it's Huey Lewis himself that tells Marty's band that they are "just too darn loud"). In Back to the Future II we can hear Old Marty attempting to play the song on his guitar in 2015, and in Back to the Future III the song is playing on the radio in Needles's truck in 1985 after Marty has returned from 1885.
The Power of Love was the #1 song in 1985 and was nominated for an Academy Award for best song. The single of the tune was Huey Lewis and the News's top-selling single of all time, even beating out the singles released from their massive hit, Sports.
You don't need money, don't take fame
Don't need no credit card to ride this train
It's strong and it's sudden and it's cruel sometimes
but it might just save your life
That's the power of love
Back to the Future Trilogy DVDs