Friday, April 30, 2010

May 1

Whose career trajectory could I compare to Ray Parker Jr? He worked his way up as a guitarist for acts like the Spinners and Barry White, parlaying that into a band called Raydio that managed a fistful of top 40 hits. Ray went solo in a big way, harnessing the power of MTV, even going too far: two years before "Thriller", he did a vampire and werewolf infested video for "The Other Woman" that was banned by MTV - turns out, they were more afraid of showing a white woman and black man on a date together.

He didn't give up on the spooky stuff, though. He accepted a movie theme songwriting gig that many artists (such as Lindsay Buckingham and Huey Lewis) had turned down: Ghostbusters. His title song became a global sensation (number 1 in U.S., top 5 in the rest of the English spekaing world) and an Oscar nominee. It also became the source of a lawsuit from Huey Lewis, who said it sounded too much like "I Want a New Drug". That lawsuit was settled out of court, but it still raises hackles between Parker and Lewis. (I guess they think neither of them can't lose... sorry...) And that's why, as of 2009, you won't find the video for "Ghostbusters" on any video or DVD release.

These days, music's a world away from the pop-funk that made Ray Parker Jr a sensation in the 80's. Family took precedence over career for him: he assumed care of his parents under their deaths in '93, he got married in '94 and concentrated on raising his kids... he didn't put out an album for 15 years.
These days, he plays smooth jazz at vineyard concerts and gushes about his collegeiate sons. He doesn't even have the jheri-curls anymore. But "Ghostbusters" never goes away; if they ever get the third movie off the ground, who wouldn't be surprised if Mr Parker Jr made an appearance on the charts once again?

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