If you hear something strange in your neighbourhood, it’s most likely Ray Parker Jnr. knocking about! He don’t think that ‘man’ should sleep alone.
Ray Parker Jnr. was born in Detroit in 1954 and made his first steps into performing aged 12 years old. By the time he was 16, he was writing and recording with Marvin Gaye. In the 70’s, he worked for Stevie Wonder and continued to hone his craft as a songwriter for the likes of The Supremes, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Tina Turner and many more. His first taste of commercial success came when he wrote “You Got The Love” for Rufus and Chaka Khan, which went to No.11 on the singles chart and No.1 on the R&B chart. In 1977, he formed the group Raydio and went top ten with their single, “Jack And Jill” but after a couple more successes, Ray was plucked from the band to make him a solo singing star.
His debut single, “The Other Woman”, came in 1982 and reached No.4 on the top 100 and No.2 on the R&B chart, although initially his success was confined to his home territory as well as Canada. His debut album of the same name went Gold (500,000 + copies) and produced two further R&B chart top ten hits with “Let Me Go” and “Bad Boy”. The following year came the album “Woman Out Of Control”, which featured the top twenty hit “I Still Can’t Get Over Loving You” and two further singles into 1984 released before Parker was asked to write and record a song for a new film by producer and director Ivan Reitman called ‘Ghostbusters’. The comedy/sci-fi film prompted Ray to write tongue-in-cheek about not being afraid of ghosts but if all else fails, you have to call those ghostbusters! The song was the hit of 1984, topping the US chart and making number one or number two in over twenty countries worldwide, selling over seven million copies in the process.
It was not without controversy, however, as shortly after its release, Huey Lewis of The News, sued Parker for using the same melody for their 1983 top ten hit, “I Want A New Drug”. The case was settled out of court with both sides still benefitting from the volume of sales of the record. Despite global recognition now, Ray’s immediate releases did not follow the same patten, with “Jamie” only charting in America at No.14 and his 1985 studio album, “Sex And The Single Man” performing poorly. Ray combined his time still songwriting, working with Diana Ross, Deniece Williams and new boy band New Edition (featuring a then unknown Bobby Brown). He also made acting appearances in the TV sitcom Gimme A Break and Jump Street. He was back in the studio in 1986/87 to record his fourth album, “After Dark”, which featured the single, “I Don’t Think That Man Should Sleep Alone”, reaching No.13 in the UK, only his second sizeable hit there, it underperformed at home, peaking at No.68 although it did put him back in the top five on the R&B chart for the first time since “Ghostbusters”.
He recorded “Over You” for the album with Natalie Cole (US R&B No.10) as well as a second song, “The Past”. Ray teamed up with that golden haired boy, Glenn Medeiros in 1990 for the song “All I’m Missing Is You”, which made No.32 on the singles chart, but after the relative failure of his own 1991 album, “I Love You Like You Are”, Ray returned to working with other artists as a songwriter and producer. He lost both his mother and father in only a short space of time in the early 1990’s, but happily, married in 1994 at the age of 40 and eventually had four sons together. After the obligatory number of greatest hits album, so official, some bargain bin, throughout the 1990’s, Ray returned to the studio, for himself, in 2006, recording the album, “I’m Free”. Three years later, he made a ‘comeback’ in the UK, writing and appearing in a telecoms television advert, for which he wrote the theme song, “118 118”! Such was the popularity of this, is was even released as a download on streaming sites.
Ray has now, largely, retired, following his appearance in the 2014 season of US comedy show, A To Z. That same year he was given a star on the Hollywood walk of fame in recognition of his contribution to music. Having not performed for many years, Ray was ‘coaxed’ on to the stage in 2016 for ABC’s Greatest Hits music show to sing live, while as recent as 2020, he has filmed a new documentary about his life and work, titled, appropriately, Who You Gonna Call?(!)
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