Ray Parker Jr.

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Ray Parker Jr.
Parker in 2013
Parker in 2013
Background information
Birth nameRay Erskine Parker Jr.
Born (1954-05-01) May 1, 1954 (age 66)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
GenresR&B, pop
Occupation(s)Musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, actor
InstrumentsGuitar, vocals
Years active1963–present
Associated acts

Ray Erskine Parker Jr. (born May 1, 1954) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, record producer and actor. As a solo performer, he wrote and performed the theme song to the 1984 movie Ghostbusters. He also performed with his band, Raydio, and with Barry White.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Parker was born in Detroit to Venolia Parker and Ray Parker Sr. He has two siblings, his brother Opelton and his sister Barbara.[citation needed] Parker attended Angel Elementary School where his music teacher, Afred T Kirby, inspired him to be a musician at age 6 playing the clarinet. Parker attended Cass Tech High School in the 10th grade.

Parker is a 1971 graduate of Detroit's Northwestern High School. He was raised in the Dexter-Grand Boulevard neighborhood on its West Side.[citation needed] Parker attended college at Lawrence Institute of Technology.


Early work[edit]

Parker gained recognition during the late 1960s as a member of Bohannon's house band at the legendary 20 Grand nightclub. This Detroit hotspot often featured Tamla/Motown acts, one of which, the (Detroit) Spinners, was so impressed by the young guitarist's skills that they added him to their touring group. Through the Bohannon relationship at 16 he recorded and co-wrote his first songs with Marvin Gaye. Parker was also employed as a studio musician as a teenager for the emergent Holland-Dozier-Holland's Invictus/Hot Wax stable, and his choppy style was particularly prevalent on "Want Ads", a number one single for Honey Cone. Parker was later enlisted by Lamont Dozier to appear on his first two albums for ABC Records.

In 1972, Parker was a guest guitarist on Stevie Wonder's funk song "Maybe Your Baby" from Wonder's album Talking Book. He also was the lead guitarist for Stevie Wonder when Wonder served as the opening act on the Rolling Stones' 1972 tour.[3] In 1973, he became a sideman in Barry White's The Love Unlimited Orchestra, before creating Raydio, an R&B group, in 1977, with Vincent Bonham, Jerry Knight, and Arnell Carmichael. Parker appeared briefly in the 1974 film Uptown Saturday Night as a guitar player in the church picnic scene.

Parker also wrote songs and did session work for The Carpenters, Rufus and Chaka Khan, The Supremes, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder (an association which prompted a permanent move to Los Angeles), Deniece Williams, Bill Withers, Michael Henderson, Jean-Luc Ponty, Leon Haywood, The Temptations, The Spinners, Boz Scaggs, David Foster, Rhythm Heritage, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Honey Cone, Herbie Hancock, Tina Turner, and Diana Ross.[citation needed]

Parker's first bona fide hit as a writer was "You Got the Love", co-written with Chaka Khan and recorded by Rufus. The single hit #1 on the R&B charts and #11 on the pop charts in December 1974. In 1976 he worked as rhythmic guitarist for Lucio Battisti's album Io tu noi tutti, translated as "Me you and all of us".[citation needed]

1977–1981: Raydio[edit]

Raydio scored their first big hit, "Jack and Jill", from their self-titled album in 1978 with Arista Records. The song reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, earning a gold single and gold album in the process. Their follow-up song, "You Can't Change That", was released in 1979 from the Rock On album. The song was another Top 10 hit, peaking at #9 on the Billboard chart during the summer and also selling a million copies.

In 1980, the group became known as Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio. The group released two more albums, Two Places at the Same Time in 1980 and A Woman Needs Love in 1981 both gold albums. In 1981, he produced the hard funk single "Sweat (till you get wet)" by Brick. During the 1980s, Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio had two Top 40 hits ("Two Places at the Same Time" - #30 in 1980 and "That Old Song" - #21 in 1981) and their last and biggest hit, "A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do)", released in 1981, went to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts and to #1 on the R&B Charts for two weeks in 1981.

Solo years[edit]

Raydio broke up in 1981. Parker 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. "Ghostbusters" 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. Parker's song secured him a 1984 Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance.[4] Other hits from this period included "I Still Can't Get Over Loving You" (Pop #12) and "Jamie" (Pop #14).

Parker was one of the first black artists to venture into the then-fledgling world of music videos. In 1978, Hollywood producer Thom Eubank produced several music videos of songs from Raydio's first, eponymous album on Arista Records. The single "Jack & Jill" was the first released to air on Wolfman Jack's Saturday night television show, The Midnight Special. The music videos were also transferred to film and projected in movie theaters all over Europe. He also 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 an outer space background with backup singers.[citation needed] Parker's "Ghostbusters" video, helmed by the film's director, Ivan Reitman, was one of the first movie-themed videos to find success on MTV.

Parker at the Montreux Jazz Festival 2009, Montreux, Switzerland

Parker 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 performed guitar on several songs on La Toya Jackson's 1980 debut album. In 1989, he also wrote "Ghostbusters", a rap performed by Run-D.M.C., for the movie Ghostbusters II. 1989 also saw Parker work with actor Jack Wagner (General Hospital) on an album for MCA Records that was eventually shelved and never released. A single from the Jack Wagner sessions, "Wish You Were Mine", featuring an intro rap by Parker, was released on a 1990 MCA promotional sampler CD. In 2006, Parker released a new CD titled I'm Free. Parker is also the founder and owner of the Los Angeles-based recording facility Ameraycan Recording Studios.[5][6]

In July 2016, Parker performed on the ABC network's television show Greatest Hits.[7]

In 2014, Parker was invited by producer Gerry Gallagher to record with Latin rock legends El Chicano as well as Alphonse Mouzon, Brian Auger, Alex Ligertwood, Siedah Garrett, Walfredo Reyes Jr., Spencer Davis, Lenny Castro, Vikki Carr, Pete Escovedo, Peter Michael Escovedo, Jessy J, Marcos J. Reyes, Salvador Santana, and David Paich, and is featured on guitar on the song "Something Got Me Started" from Gallagher's most recent studio album due out in 2019.

Ghostbusters theme song lawsuit[edit]

In 1984 Huey Lewis sued Columbia Pictures and Parker, stating that the melody to the Ghostbusters theme song infringed on the copyright of the Huey Lewis and the News song "I Want a New Drug", which had been released on their album Sports the previous year. The three parties reached a settlement in 1995 which banned them from revealing any information that was not included in a press release they jointly issued at the time. In March 2001, Parker filed a suit against Lewis for breaching part of the settlement which prohibited either side from speaking about it publicly.[8]


Parker also made acting appearances on the 1980s sitcom Gimme a Break, 1984 CBS Saturday morning kids' show Pryor's Place (for which Parker appeared in the opening title sequence singing the theme song), Disorderlies (1987), Enemy Territory (1987), Charlie Barnett's Terms of Enrollment (1986) (V) aka Terms of Enrollment (USA: short title), two episodes of Berrenger's (1985), and Uptown Saturday Night (1974). He was also a production assistant for the film Fly by Night (1993). He made guest appearances on 21 Jump Street and Kids Incorporated. In early 2009, Parker appeared in a television advertisement for 118 118, a British directory enquiries provider. This featured Parker singing a 118-specific version of the Ghostbusters theme song.[9]

On 15 April 2009, Parker's 118 theme song was made available as a downloadable ringtone from the 118 118 mobile website. In 2014, Parker appeared in the fifth episode of the first season of NBC's romantic comedy television series A to Z, singing the "Ghostbusters" theme song for a Halloween party. Parker was highlighted on TV One's series, Unsung in the fifth season.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Parker's father died of cancer on March 12, 1992, at age 82; his mother died of Alzheimer's on December 18, 1993, at age 83.[citation needed] At age 40, in 1994, he married his wife, Elaine. They have four sons: Ray III (Little Ray), Redmond, Gibson, and Jericho. In 2014, Parker received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to music.[10]

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Ray Parker Jr. among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.[11]


For Ray Parker Jr.'s releases with Raydio, see Raydio discography.

Solo studio albums[edit]

Year Title Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
Record label
US Pop


Con. Jazz

UK Pop
1982 The Other Woman 11 1 27 Arista
1983 Woman Out of Control 45 18
1985 Sex and the Single Man 65 48
1987 After Dark 86 27 40 Geffen
1991 I Love You Like You Are 97 MCA
2006 I'm Free 45 25 Raydio Music
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.

Compilation albums[edit]

Year Title Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
Record label

1982 Greatest Hits 51 17 Arista
1984 Chartbusters 60 36 84 89 49 36 16
1990 The Best of Ray Parker Jr. & Raydio
1993 Greatest Hits
1998 The Best of Ray Parker Jr. BMG/Arista
1999 Ghostbusters: The Encore Collection BMG
2000 The Heritage Collection Arista
2011 S.O.U.L. Sony Music
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.

Solo singles[edit]

Year Title Peak chart positions Album



1982 "The Other Woman" 4 2 33 24 1 7 4 The Other Woman
"Let Me Go" 38 3
"It's Our Own Affair" 106 44
"Bad Boy" 35 6 37 22 Greatest Hits
1983 "The People Next Door" 60
"I Still Can't Get Over Loving You" 12 12 10 89 26 48 Woman Out of Control
1984 "Woman Out of Control" 71
"In The Heat of the Night" 64
"Ghostbusters" 1 1 9 6 2 1 1 1 4 4 5 2 2 3 2 Ghostbusters / Chartbusters
"Jamie" 14 12 6 43 16 Chartbusters
1985 "I've Been Diggin' You" 38
"Girls Are More Fun" 34 21 32 46 Sex and the Single Man
"One Sided Love Affair"
1986 "One Sunny Day" / "Dueling Bikes from Quicksilver" (with Helen Terry) 96 Quicksilver
1987 "I Don't Think That Man Should Sleep Alone" 68 5 42 18 47 13 After Dark
"Over You" (with Natalie Cole) 10 38 65
"The Past" (with Natalie Cole)
1990 "All I'm Missing Is You" (credited as Glenn Medeiros featuring Ray Parker Jr.) 32 Glenn Medeiros
1991 "She Needs to Get Some" 34 I Love You Like You Are
"Girl I Saw You"
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.


  1. ^ Kawashima, Dale. "Special Interview with Ray Parker Jr., Renowned Artist/Writer/Producer of "Ghostbusters" And Many Other Classic Hit Songs". Songwriter Universe. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  2. ^ Alloway, Meredith. "Past and Present Combine at the Tribeca Film Fest's Salute to Clive Davis". Vanity Fair. Condé Nast. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  3. ^ American Top 40 of 2/18/1978.
  4. ^ Blair Jackson (Sep 1, 2006). "Classic Tracks: Ray Parker Jr.'s "Ghostbusters"". Mixonline.com. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
  5. ^ Jackson, Blair. "Classic Tracks: Ray Parker Jr.'s "Ghostbusters"". mixonline.com. Mix Online. Retrieved 2014-11-30.
  6. ^ Cole, George (2005). The Last Miles: The Music of Miles Davis, 1980-1991 (First ed.). University Of Michigan Press. p. 208. ISBN 0-472-11501-4. Retrieved 2014-11-30.
  7. ^ ABC
  8. ^ Vanhorn, Teri (March 23, 2001). "Ray Parker Jr. Suing Huey Lewis Over ‘Ghostbusters’ Comment". MTV.
  9. ^ 118 television commercial on YouTube
  10. ^ Andrew Barker (2014-03-07). "Ray Parker Jr. Receives Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame". Variety. Retrieved 2014-07-20.
  11. ^ Rosen, Jody (25 June 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  12. ^ "Ray Parker Jr.: Billboard 200". billboard.com. Billboard.
  13. ^ "Ray Parker Jr.: Billboard Top Soul Albums". billboard.com. Billboard.
  14. ^ "Ray Parker Jr.: Billboard Top Jazz Albums". billboard.com. Billboard.
  15. ^ "Ray Parker Jr.: Billboard Contemporary Jazz Albums". billboard.com. Billboard.
  16. ^ a b c Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 229. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  17. ^ a b "Ray Parker Jr". officialcharts.com. Official Charts Company.
  18. ^ a b "US Certifications > Ray Parker Jr". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
  19. ^ a b c d e f "US Charts > Ray Parker Jr". Billboard. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
  20. ^ a b "CAN Charts > Ray Parker Jr". RPM. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
  21. ^ a b "NZ Charts > Ray Parker Jr". Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
  22. ^ a b "SWE Charts > Ray Parker Jr". Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
  23. ^ a b "SWI Charts > Ray Parker Jr". Swiss Music Charts. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
  24. ^ "BEL Charts > Ray Parker Jr". VRT Top 30. Archived from the original on 2012-04-09. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
  25. ^ "FRA Charts > Ray Parker Jr". Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
  26. ^ "GER Charts > Ray Parker Jr". Media Control Charts. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
  27. ^ "IRE Charts Search > Ray Parker Jr". Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
  28. ^ "NLD Charts > Ray Parker Jr". MegaCharts. Retrieved 2012-12-24.

External links[edit]