Parks was member of The North Texas State One O’clock Lab Band before moving to Los Angeles to work with Sonny and Cher in 1970. In 1980, Parks was a founding member of the Jazz Fusion band Koinonia. Parks is best known for his many contributions to albums by Steely Dan and Michael Jackson. Notably, he played guitar on the Royal Scam track “Haitian Divorce”, which features a Talkbox to produce a chicken clucking sound. He has performed with Joan Baez, Alexander O’Neal, Crosby and Nash, Madonna, Stevie Wonder, Barbra Streisand, Roberto Carlos, Elton John, Celine Dion, The Monkees, Madeleine Peyroux, America, Diana Ross, George Benson, Rod Stewart, Randy Travis, Bob Seger, Billy Joel, Neil Diamond, Michael Bublé, Barry Manilow, David Lee Roth, Paul Simon, Dolly Parton, Amanda Lear, Kenny Loggins, Tom Scott, B.B. King, Dusty Springfield, Randy Edelman, Leon Gieco (Argentina), Koinonia, Johnny Rivers, Johnny Hallyday and Bread.
Parks features on Cat Beach’s albums Letting Go and Love Me Out Loud. In 2008, Parks participated in the production of the album Psalngs, the debut release of Canadian musician John Lefebvre.
Dean Parks is very prominently featured on Viktor Krauss’ album “II” (2007), where he plays a plethora of other stringed instruments in addition to electric and acoustic guitars.
During the late 1970s Parks joined up with Bread for their “Lost Without Your Love” reunion tour, taking on the responsibilities of lead guitarist. Following the departure of founding member Jimmy Griffin, Parks then became the ‘unofficial’ fourth member for the duration of the 1977/78 tours, including the visit to England to record a BBC TV special. He also continued the role when Bread’s co-founder, David Gates, put together his own solo touring band shortly afterwards. In the spring of 2005 he joined David Crosby and Graham Nash on their European tour, as well as their U.S. tours in fall 2007, fall 2008, and spring 2011.