Ray Erskine Parker Jr. (born May 1, 1954) is an American musician-guitarist, singer-songwriter, producer and actor. Parker is known for writing and performing the theme song to the movie Ghostbusters, for his solo music, and for performing with his band, Raydio, and with Barry White.
Parker was born in Detroit to Venolia Parker and Ray Parker Sr. He has two siblings, his brother Opelton and his sister Barbara. Parker attended Angel Elementary School where music teacher, Afred T Kirby inspired him to be a musician at age 6 playing the clarinet. Parker attended Cass Tech High School in the 10th grade.
Ray Parker Jr is a 1972 graduate of Detroit’s Northwestern High School. He was raised in the Dexter-Grand Boulevard neighborhood on its West Side. Parker attended college at Lawrence Institute of Technology.
Parker gained recognition during the late 1960s as a member of Bohannon ‘s house band at the legendary 20 Grand nightclub. This Detroit hotspot often featured Tamla/Motown acts, one of which, the (Detroit) Spinners, was so impressed with the young guitarist’s skills that they added him to their touring group. Through the Bohannon relationship at 16 he recorded and co-wrote his first songs 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 particularly prevalent on “Want Ads”, a number one single for Honey Cone. 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. He also was the lead guitarist for Stevie Wonder when Wonder served as the opening act on the Rolling Stones 1972 tour. In 1973, he became a sideman in Barry White’s The Love Unlimited Orchestra, before creating Raydio, an R&B group, in 1977, with Vincent Bonham, Jerry Knight, and Arnell Carmichael. 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, Rufus and Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder (an association which prompted a permanent move to Los Angeles), Deniece Williams, Bill Withers, Michael Henderson, Jean-Luc Ponty, Leon Haywood, The Temptations, The Spinners, Boz Scaggs, David Foster, Rhythm Heritage, Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Honey Cone, Herbie Hancock, Tina Turner, and Diana Ross. His first bona fide hit as a writer was “You Got the Love”, co-written with Chaka Khan and recorded by Rufus. The single hit #1 on the R&B charts and #11 on the pop charts in December 1974. According to a special mention, in 1976 he worked as rhythmic guitarist for Lucio Battisti’s album Io tu noi tutti, translated as “Me you and all of us”. Parker endorses and plays Mérida Guitars.