The new Ghostbusters movie is out and it’s time to have a good laugh at some of the most ridiculous moments in the music industry. The Ghostbusters Soundtrack
Ray Parker, Jr., topped the charts in 1984 with his smash hit “Ghostbusters”, the theme song to the film of the same name. It reached #68 on the Billboard charts in June 1984.
It reached #1 on August 11, 1984, less than two months after its debut. The number stayed there for three more weeks.
It was not just the US Hot 100. It reached #2 on the UK Singles charts and even re-entered Top 75 in 2008. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music for Original Song.
This song was a hit and people loved it. Money is still being made. With the new sequel, even more money will be made. Perhaps that’s the reason there has been so much back-and-forth litigation surrounding it. There will undoubtedly be many more lawsuits in the coming year.
How the Ghostbusters Theme Drama All Got Started
Ghostbusters producers knew they had a great project. But they could only do it if they nail every aspect… even the theme song.
They first tapped Lindsey Buckingham. Lindsey had created the National Lampoon’s Vacation theme song “Holiday Road”, which was a hit for that movie. It also featured Harold Ramis (Egon spendler!). Lindsey was afraid that he would be typecast musically as “Soundtrack Guy” and he passed.
The producers had this denial in their hands and reached out to Huey, who was absolutely killing it at the time. He would continue doing so. Lewis declined because he was busy with the Back to the Future soundtrack. Enter Ray Parker, Jr.
Ok, it’s a lot of wasted time and producers are in a tight spot. So what do they do next? Ray Parker, Jr. is known for his Motown work as well as collaborations with Stevie Wonder, Barry White, Aretha and many other great acts. He was open to it!
Problem? The problem? He had only three days to finish the theme song.
It’s not a huge deal, right? It’s ya boy Ray Parker, Jr. He can get it done.
The Ghostbusters theme song was written, according to some sources
Parker’s story is as follows:
He was tapped by the film producers to sing the theme song. He had a three-day deadline. He tried to create concepts and lyrics from the Ghostbusters title word, but it was difficult to find inspiration.
While he was brainstorming, a TV commercial aired. The commercial was for a small service-based business. It was broadcast on a local TV station. He was attracted to it because, just like the Ghostbusters’, it featured a group of men who would go out and perform typical services like cleaning up flood damage, basement restoration, or even ghost capture. The jingle of the business was what really caught his attention.
Boom! He would make a radio jingle to promote the ghost-busting group, just like it was for real-life commercials.
Ray Parker, Jr. says it anyways.
Let the Ghostbusters’ Song Drama unfold
The song was quickly penned and sent back to the producers. They loved it. They began work on the music video and were joined by many celebrities like John Candy or Chevy Chase.
Everything was going well! The video helped propel the song to the Top 10 in almost every country that can understand English. Run-D.M.C. even remade the song! Even Run-D.M.C. remade the song!
Listen to the official video and you will be able to recall the song. (I promise, it’s worth the effort for comparison purposes). https://www.youtube.com/embed/Fe93CLbHjxQ?feature=oembed
The theme song was used in video games that were produced on the Atari 64 and Commodore 64. This would continue all the way to Playstation 3 or Nintendo Wii. Lego took it home and made use of it. It was featured in the Rock Band videogame. It has appeared in many other movies… It is a cultural icon now, and it will continue to be so.
That’s why Huey Lewis heard the song for the first time…
Remember that the producers requested Huey Lewis to write the theme song prior to Ray Parker, Jr. because of the popularity of Huey Lewis & The News. The public loved Lewis’s style and he was releasing hit after hit. Huey Lewis had released the album Sport in 1984 about five months earlier. Huey Lewis & The News – Sports
The album’s second single was “I Want to Get a New Drug“. It was already getting its marketing push and reached #6 on Billboard’s Hot 100. The song was well-known by everyone and continued to receive attention throughout the year. The Ghostbusters producers reached out to Lewis to record this song. Back To the Future was the first to capture him.
Why are we discussing I Want to Get a New Drug. Listen to this… https://www.youtube.com/embed/N6uEMOeDZsA?feature=oembed
This sounds familiar… Huey thought so, too. He immediately called his lawyer.
Although this speculation is only speculative, one could speculate that Ray Parker, Jr. was told by the producers to use this song for the Ghostbusters theme. It’s possible, but I don’t believe it. It can walk like a duck, and it can quack like a duck.
THE START OF A NEVER-ENDING ROUND of SUING & COUNTER SUING
Huey Lewis took the matter to Ray Parker, Jr., and Columbia Pictures. It was impossible to discern whether this was a copy or not. The original was just in the Top 10 charts. Columbia Pictures settled out of court and gave Huey Lewis a large check to keep him quiet.
Literally, Lewis was paid not to talk about it.
According to the rumours, this sum was $5,000,000 cold hard cash for the theft of his guitar riff and bass line as well as other elements of the song.
Now, fast forward to 2001. VH1 hosted a Behind The Music show with Huey Lewis, where he violated the confidentiality agreement and said that he would never speak about this theft again. VH1’s Behind the Music – Huey Lewis & The News
“The offensive part wasn’t that Ray Parker Jr. had ripped off this song, it was more symbolic of an industry that wants to purchase it. They wanted our wave and wanted it to be bought. … It is not for sale. … They were correct, in the end. It was probably for sale because they purchased it.
This one is going to be a lot of fun.
This special was aired by VH1 and Ray Parker, Jr. had no choice but to tune in. He paid up and sued Huey Lee for violating the confidentiality agreement. The agreement to keep the secret to the grave was the basis of the previous settlement (hush-hush money). This contract still existed 17 years later.
Parker then sues Lewis for “unspecified amounts of punitive and compensatory damages.” He also demanded that Lewis pay his attorney fees. These false and inflamatory statements caused Lewis emotional and psychological stress…
The Horse’s Mouth is the Truth
A story about the Ghostbusters anniversary would be published in Premiere magazine later on.
This was damage control. In an interview, the filmmakers admitted that they used I Want a New Drug for temporary background music during editing.
They also confessed that Huey Lewis was unable to write the theme song. Ray Parker Jr. was sent a scene to inspire him to write his own version.
You might think they are hiding a bit of truth. They probably said, “Hey, this fits the movie.” We’ll take it off. However, this is speculation.
GOTTA SUE ‘EM ALL!
Nope. Nope. Ray Parker, Jr., takes on EMI and Sony / ATV Music in 2013. Why? Why? Because, despite the fact that his contract stated he would get 75% of the Ghostbusters theme tune’s profits, and despite the fact that it had earned more than $20 million, his royalty checks never came to even a fraction of that amount. Sony will likely counter-sue to sue for libel and/or something else. Probably.
Arista was the music publisher that paid Parker for his song. Ariola bought them. BMG then bought Ariola. Sony Universal then acquired BMG. There may have been paperwork that fell through the cracks.
Perhaps that’s what happens when someone takes the work of someone else and you do the dirty work.
Wait… stolen work? Is that what you mean by “I Want a New Drug?”? Yep. Yes.
Stupidity Level Above 9000
This is what you should see. Since Ray Parker Jr. was born, almost everyone has hated him and treated Huey Lewis as an innocent victim for nearly 30 years. This little gem is from the internet detectives that was not readily available or obvious previously.
Let’s go back to 1979. M released a song called Pop Muzik. It reached #2 on the UK charts and #1 in Canada.
Now you need to wonder who wrote the bass line… Robin Scott, the original creator of this song, isn’t seen running around suing Lewis & Parker.
My take on the Whole Thing
Here’s how I see it all:
- Sony and Arista were paid, and are still getting paid, especially with the Ghostbusters sequel. They also still own the rights to the theme tune.
- Ray Parker, Jr. earned his fair share of fame and cash.
- Huey Lewis settled for $5 million and was rewarded with more money and karma by being a key obsession in the film and soundtrack of American Psycho.
- Robin Scott and M were not able to get any diddly squat from Robin Scott!
Robin Scott, who wrote most of the song’s lyrics, is the only one not getting paid. To throw the guy a bone, I went to Amazon and purchased the CD with the original version of the song. The rest of the album is also not bad!
M – Pop Muzik
Although I don’t recommend it, if you find this story funny or makes you angry, go to iTunes and pay 99 cents to get the track. This dude deserves to know people care and are looking for the truth.
You should also enjoy Key & Peele’s hilarious commentary on the whole thing:
This fiasco looks like it will continue. As of August 2018, the Key & Peele parody Ray Parker, Jr. was made private on the official YouTube channel. This is insane!
April 2016 Update I saw the trailer for Ghostbusters 2, with an all-female cast. It looks and sounds great. It was also interesting to see that the dubstep maker had been used to recreate the song. I wouldn’t be surprised if this version doesn’t climb the charts.
June 2016 Update Some of you who are reading this post may be interested to hear the official Ghostbusters theme. It’s by Fall Out Boy with Missy Elliot. They should have consulted even one young person to determine if they were worth including in this decade.