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Who you gonna call?

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Ray Parker Jr. is seen at the Los Angeles Premiere of Columbia Pictures' 'Ghostbusters' at TCL Chinese Theatre on Saturday, July 9, 2016, in Los Angeles. Ray Parker Jr. is seen at the Los Angeles Premiere of Columbia Pictures' 'Ghostbusters' at TCL Chinese Theatre on Saturday, July 9, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Sony/AP Photo)

Ray Parker Jr. talks 'Ghostbusters' and more

When you've written and recorded one of the most iconic movie anthems of all time, you would think that your version of the song would be used in any future reboot of the film.

In the case of 'Ghostbusters,' Ray Parker Jr. says he likes the 2016 all-female version of the 1984 movie but wishes 'they had used my music more.'

'When the hero comes, you should play the hero's theme song,' Parker told me during a recent phone interview from his home in Calabasas, CA. 'When Indiana Jones comes out, you hear (sings the melody of that movie's theme) because it lets you know the hero is there.'

A native of Detroit, Ray Parker Jr. came of age in the early 70s playing for Stevie Wonder, Barry White, The Spinners and Marvin Gaye. Later in the 70s, his band Raydio scored hits like 'Jack and Jill' and 'You Can't Change That.' Parker had a reputation as a killer guitarist who knew his way around a hook when it came to writing hits.

In 1984, Parker received a call from 'Ghostbusters' director Ivan Reitman. The film was complete but it needed a catchy theme. Reitman told Parker that he wanted an up-tempo song with a dramatic build and asked him to come in immediately to see the penultimate cut of the film.

'They showed me the section where the music would go, which was the library scene,' Parker said. 'It was supposed to be a short part but once he heard my song, they wanted to make it longer and use more of it. Then they wanted it to be a record.'

Parker agreed to each of the filmmaker's requests and then asked 'When do you need it?'

'48 hours,' Reitman told him. 'Two days? How am I going to do this in two days?' Parker asked himself. 'The movie was going to come out and I needed to do it fast. I didn't sleep,' he told me.

The finished track became an instant classic, spending three weeks at number one, becoming the ninth-biggest hit of 1984. Almost immediately, controversy ensued when Parker was sued by Huey Lewis over the tune's similarity to the latter's 1983 hit 'I Want a New Drug.'

Stories began to circulate that the film's producers had initially wanted Huey Lewis and the News to record a title song for 'Ghostbusters' but couldn't sign them because of their commitment to the upcoming 'Back To The Future.' Other stories suggested that the Lewis track had actually been used in the temp score as a placeholder before the final song was added. I asked Parker if that were true.

'Believe it or not, I don't remember hearing his song in the version (of the movie) that I saw,' he told me.

Parker said he was aware of the Lewis song but that he wasn't thinking of it when he wrote 'Ghostbusters.'

'I think they're very different,' he said. 'I had heard his song on the radio before, but it's a totally different song from the one I came up with.'

Parker settled with Lewis in 1985, with both parties signing a confidentiality clause. However, the case was reopened in 2001 after Lewis discussed the lawsuit in an episode of VH1's 'Behind the Music.'

'In all, there were 20 court cases,' Parker said. 'That was just the one here. There was one in England and a bunch of other countries. It's all over now. It's all settled.'

The singer has been working feverishly to finish two major projects this year his autobiography and a new recording studio next door to his home.

The book, which Parker hopes to have out before Christmas, will be called (what else?) 'Who You Gonna Call?'

'It's very in-depth,' he said. 'It's a great reading story. It's not a documentary-type book or one of those historical books talking about how I made records and all that. It's a journey through my life. It's me hanging out with Marvin Gaye and driving his car and Van Morrison coming in my room in the middle of the night. All kinds of stuff goes on in this book.'

Stuff like being thrown into the middle of the biggest rock and roll tour in history up to that point The Rolling Stones' infamous 1972 tour of America.

Motown legend Stevie Wonder had been tapped by the Stones to open the tour and Wonder wanted a great guitarist in his band.

'It was a big-time education,' Parker said about working with Stevie. 'I was quite popular in Detroit at the time and that's how he knew who I was. 'Music of My Mind' (one of two Stevie Wonder albums issued in 1972) is one of my favorite albums of all time. By the way, Stevie is the one who taught me how to write songs.'

The first song Parker wrote - 'You Got The Love' - was a number one soul hit for Rufus and Chaka Khan.

Stories of that '72 Stones tour usually conjure images of the debauched and illicit variety. Was Parker aware of any of it?

'I participated in some of that stuff,' he said with a laugh. 'I can't say everything that happened but I can tell you that I never did any drugs. I was 18 years old and it was my first tour away from home. The biggest tour in history can you imagine?'

Parker hopes construction on his studio will be complete this week. 'Then I'm really going to escalate speed on finishing my new album,' he told me. 'It's an old-school album that I'm calling 1983.' It's going to be more for my group of folks (Parker is 62). It won't have any of the rap stuff that people do now. If young people like it too, that's great. I'm going to lock myself in that studio with all of the toys until the record is finished.'

Of all of the music he has recorded, Parker says he will always be proudest of 'Ghostbusters.'

'Because it's the biggest,' he says. 'It's a song that's lasted 30-something years and it seems like it's a brand new record today. Everybody knows that song and everybody says that phrase. No matter what I do, it's my theme song. Everybody looks at me and goes Who ya gonna call?''

Does he ever get tired of that?

'Never. It's like holding the winning lotto ticket. What a blessing.'


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