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 68)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • actor
  • Guitar
  • vocals
Years active1963–present

Ray Erskine Parker Jr. (born May 1, 1954)[1] is an American singer, songwriter and record producer. As a solo performer, he wrote and performed the theme song to the 1984 film Ghostbusters. Previously, Parker achieved a US top-10 hit in 1982 with "The Other Woman". He also performed with his band, Raydio, and with Barry White.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Ray Erskine Parker Jr. was born in Detroit, Michigan,[1] 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 six playing the clarinet. Parker attended Cass Technical 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.

Music career[edit]

Early work[edit]

Parker gained recognition during the late 1960s as a member of Bohannon's house band at the 20 Grand nightclub.[1] 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.[1] Through the Bohannon relationship, he recorded and co-wrote his first songs at age 16 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 especially prominent on "Want Ads", a number one single for Honey Cone.[1] 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, an association which prompted a permanent move to Los Angeles.[1] He also was the lead guitarist for Wonder when Wonder served as the opening act on the Rolling Stones' 1972 tour.[4] In 1973, he became a sideman in Barry White's Love Unlimited Orchestra. 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, Bill Cosby, Rufus and Chaka Khan, the Supremes, Aretha Franklin, Deniece Williams, Bill Withers, Michael Henderson, Jean-Luc Ponty, Leon Haywood, the Temptations, Boz Scaggs, David Foster, Rhythm Heritage, Gladys Knight & the Pips, 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 No. 1 on the R&B charts and No. 11 on the pop charts in December 1974. In 1976, he featured as rhythm guitarist on Lucio Battisti's album Io tu noi tutti, translated as "Me you and all of us".[citation needed]

1977–1981: Raydio[edit]

In 1977, Parker created the R&B group Raydio with Vincent Bonham, Jerry Knight, and Arnell Carmichael.[1] Raydio scored their first big hit with "Jack and Jill", from their 1978 self-titled album with Arista Records.[1] The song reached No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, earning a Gold single and Gold album in the process. Their follow-up hit, "You Can't Change That", was released in 1979 from the Rock On album. The song was another Top 10 hit, peaking at No. 9 on the Billboard chart during the summer and selling a million copies.

In 1980, the group became known as Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio.[1] 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, Parker 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" (No. 30 in 1980) and "That Old Song" (No. 21 in 1981). Their last and biggest hit, "A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do)", released in 1981,[1] went to No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and to No. 1 on the R&B Chart for two weeks that year.

Solo years[edit]

Raydio broke up in 1981. Parker continued with his solo career, scoring eight Top 40 hits, including the hit single "The Other Woman" (Pop No. 4) in 1982 and "Ghostbusters" in 1984.[1] "Ghostbusters" peaked at No. 1 for three weeks on Billboard's Hot 100 chart, and at No. 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.[5] Other hits from this period included "I Still Can't Get Over Loving You" (Pop No. 12) and "Jamie" (Pop No. 14).

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, Run-D.M.C. performed a rap for the movie Ghostbusters II that contained elements of Parker's 1984 hit.[6] 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 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. In 2014, he was invited by producer Gerry Gallagher to record with Latin rock musicians 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. In July 2016, Parker performed on the ABC network's television show Greatest Hits.[7]

Parker is also the founder and owner of the Los Angeles-based recording facility Ameraycan Recording Studios.[8][9]

In 2022, Parker competed in season eight of The Masked Singer as "Sir Bug a Boo". After being eliminated on "Fright Night" alongside the forfeiting of Linda Blair as "Scarecrow", he performed the Ghostbusters theme.

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 forbade 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 the part of the settlement which prohibited either side from speaking about it publicly.[10]

Music videos[edit]

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.


In addition to Uptown Saturday Night, 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), two episodes of Berrenger's (1985), Charlie Barnett's Terms of Enrollment (1986) (V) aka Terms of Enrollment (USA: short title), Disorderlies (1987), Enemy Territory (1987). 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.[11]

On April 15, 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]


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 in that territory.

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 in that territory.

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" 34 145 I Love You Like You Are
"Girl I Saw You"
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 1908. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  2. ^ Kawashima, Dale (December 18, 2016). "Special Interview with Ray Parker Jr., Renowned Artist/Writer/Producer of "Ghostbusters" And Many Other Classic Hit Songs". Songwriter Universe. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  3. ^ Alloway, Meredith. "Past and Present Combine at the Tribeca Film Fest's Salute to Clive Davis". Vanity Fair. Condé Nast. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  4. ^ American Top 40, February 18, 1978
  5. ^ Blair Jackson (September 1, 2006). "Classic Tracks: Ray Parker Jr.'s "Ghostbusters"". Mixonline.com. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved August 2, 2012.
  6. ^ "Revisiting Run-D.M.C.'s hip-hop version of the Ghostbusters theme". Avclub.com. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  7. ^ "Greatest Hits (TV Series 2016– )". IMDb.com. Retrieved January 30, 2021.
  8. ^ Jackson, Blair (September 2006). "Classic Tracks: Ray Parker Jr.'s "Ghostbusters"". mixonline.com. Mix Online. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  9. ^ 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 November 30, 2014.
  10. ^ Vanhorn, Teri (March 23, 2001). "Ray Parker Jr. Suing Huey Lewis Over 'Ghostbusters' Comment". MTV.
  11. ^ 118 television commercial on YouTube
  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 December 24, 2012.
  19. ^ a b c d e f "US Charts > Ray Parker Jr". Billboard. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
  20. ^ a b "CAN Charts > Ray Parker Jr". RPM. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
  21. ^ a b "NZ Charts > Ray Parker Jr". Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
  22. ^ a b "SWE Charts > Ray Parker Jr". Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
  23. ^ a b "SWI Charts > Ray Parker Jr". Swiss Music Charts. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
  24. ^ "Bubbling Down Under Week Commencing August 19, 1991". Retrieved August 19, 2022.
  25. ^ "BEL Charts > Ray Parker Jr". VRT Top 30. Archived from the original on April 9, 2012. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
  26. ^ "FRA Charts > Ray Parker Jr". Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
  27. ^ "GER Charts > Ray Parker Jr". Media Control Charts. Retrieved December 24, 2012.[dead link]
  28. ^ "IRE Charts Search > Ray Parker Jr". Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
  29. ^ "NLD Charts > Ray Parker Jr". MegaCharts. Retrieved December 24, 2012.

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