1 May 1954 (age 64)
Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, United States
Ray Erskine Parker, Jr. (born May 1, 1954), is an American guitarist, songwriter, producer and recording artist. Parker is known for writing and performing the theme song to the motion picture Ghostbusters, for his solo hits, and performing with his band Raydio as well as the late Barry White.
In the mid-1970s he was a sideman in Barry White's "Love Unlimited Orchestra", before creating Raydio, an R&B group, in 1977, with Vincent Bohnam, Jerry Knight, and Arnell Carmichael. Parker appeared briefly in the 1974 film "Uptown Saturday Night" as a guitar player. Parker also wrote songs and did session work for The Carpenters, Rufus and Chaka Khan,Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Leon Haywood, Temptations, The Spinners, Boz Scaggs, Rhythm Heritage, and Gladys Knight and the Pips.
The group scored their first big hit, with Arista Records, "Jack and Jill" off of their self-titled album in 1978. The song was # 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, earning a Gold record in the process.
Their successful follow-up hit, "You Can't Change That" was released in 1979, off of the Rock On album. The song was a Top 10 hit, making it up to # 9 on the Billboard charts during the same year it was released.
In 1980, the group became known as Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio, and the group released two more albums: Two Places at the Same Time in 1980 and A Woman Needs Love in 1981.
During the eighties Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio had two Top 40 hits ("Two Places at the Same Time" - # 40 in 1980 and "That Old Song" - # 21 in 1981) and their last and biggest hit "A Woman Needs Love," released in 1981, went to # 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts, and # 1 on the R&B Charts for two weeks in 1981.
The Solo Years and Ghostbusters
Raydio broke up in 1981, while Ray Parker Jr. continued with his solo career, scoring six Top 40 hits, including the hit single "The Other Woman" (Pop # 4) in 1982 and "Ghostbusters" in 1984.
Parker was one the first black artists to venture into the then-fledgling world of music videos. He actually made two different videos for his hit "The Other Woman". The first was Halloween-themed and centered around a haunted castle with dancing corpses and vampires. The second was more performance-oriented, with Parker performing the song against a outer space background with backup singers. MTV initially refused to air either video because, at the time, no videos for black artists were shown and, in the case of the "haunted castle" video, Parker was depicted as having interracial relationships, which MTV didn't want to promote.
"Ghostbusters" was a title track of the Gold-selling soundtrack of the hit movie Ghostbusters (but the song has now sold upwards of 28 million units internationally according to Parker in 2007), starring Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd. The single was at #1 for three weeks on Billboard's Hot 100 chart, and at #1 for two weeks on its Black Singles chart. The song was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1984 but lost to Stevie Wonder's "I Just Called to Say I Love You" from The Woman in Red.
He also made an acting appearance on the 1980s sitcom Gimme a Break starring Nell Carter.
Controversy surrounding Ghostbusters
Parker was accused of plagiarizing the melody from Huey Lewis & the News song "I Want a New Drug" for his 1984 #1 hit theme to Ghostbusters, released only six months after Lewis' hit reached #6 in the Billboard Hot 100. This ended with Lewis suing Parker, and the pair settled out of court in 1995.
They returned to court once again in 2001, as Parker sued Lewis for breaching a confidentiality agreement forming part of their original out of court settlement which prohibited either side from speaking about it publicly. Lewis had revealed in a VH1 Behind The Music special that Parker had paid a financial settlement as part of the original agreement.
Ray Parker Jr. also wrote and produced hits for New Edition ("Mr. Telephone Man"), Randy Hall, Cheryl Lynn ("Shake It Up Tonight"), Deniece Williams ("I Found Love") and Diana Ross. He also performed guitar on several songs on La Toya Jackson's 1980 debut album.
* Raydio (1978) #27 US
* Rock On (1979) #45 US
* Two Places at the Same Time (1980) #33 US
* A Woman Needs Love (1981) #13 US
* Greatest Hits (1982)
Ray Parker Jr. Discography
* The Other Woman (1982) #11 US
* Woman Out of Control (1983) #45 US
* Ghostbusters (Soundtrack) (1984) #6 US
* Chartbusters (1984) #60 US
* Sex and The Single Man (1985) #65 US
* After Dark (1987) #86 US
* I Love You Like You Are (1991)
* I'm Free (2006)
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