Ray Parker Jr. is best known as the composer and performer of the Academy Award-nominated theme from the film “Ghostbusters.” That song represented the pinnacle of success for an artist who’d been a proven hitmaker for a half-decade prior, and who had also enjoyed success as a studio musician, songwriter and producer for artists ranging from Stevie Wonder to Leo Sayer to Cheryl Lynn.
Born and raised in Detroit, Ray Parker Jr. was a prodigy-playing for and touring with some of soul music’s leading lights in his teens. In 1978, he scored his first hit as an artist with “Jack & Jill,” a Sly & The Family Stone-esque Top 10 hit recorded as part of the group Raydio. By 1982, Ray was recording as a solo artist-swapping the funk-spiced Raydio sound for a more AOR bent on songs like “The Other Woman” and “Bad Boy.” 1983′s “I Still Can’t Get Over Loving You” was the leadoff single from his second solo album, Woman Out of Control, and found Ray diving head-first into sparse synth-pop.
The video is quintessentially ’80s. Bad acting, smashing vases, a random Asian dude-not much of it makes sense, but it is pretty interesting from a visual standpoint. The centerpiece, of course, would be Ray’s smoldering good looks. When matched with a voice that purred or growled more than it actually sang, it’s no mystery why Ray was one of the top sex symbols of the era.
One thing Ray also became known for was the fact that many of his songs were strongly reminiscent of other songs that were popular at the time. Most of you are familiar with the similarities between “Ghostbusters” and Huey Lewis & The News’ “I Want A New Drug.” Lewis filed a lawsuit alleging that Parker ripped him off, and the matter was settled out of court. As far as “I Still Can’t Get Over…” most people would agree that there are similarities between that song and The Police’s “Every Breath You Take.” Hell, a line in the song actually quotes Sting and company verbatim. There’s no word as to whether The Police filed suit or if they were too busy hating one another to bother. Ray’s version is a bit more sinister. Lyrics like this are usually followed by the filing of a request for a restraining order.
“I Still Can’t Get Over Loving You” hit the Top 15 on the pop and R&B charts in early 1984, then “Ghostbusters” hit big and Ray was, for a brief moment, a megastar. The hits dried up less than two years later, Ray’s last major label release was in 1991, and he’s led a fairly quiet life since, popping up earlier this year on TVOne’s documentary series “UnSung.”
Want a stalker anthem for the Eighties? Who you gonna call? I think you now know the answer to this question.