American musician-guitarist, singer-songwriter, producer and actor Ray Parker Jr. born May 1, 1954 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. Parker graduated in 1971 from 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 tou In 1973, he worked with Barry White’s The Love Unlimited Orchestra, before creating Raydio, an R&B group, in 1977, with Vincent Bohnam, 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.
Raydio’s first big hits were “Jack and Jill”, from their self-titled debut album and, “You Can’t Change That”, from the Rock On album. In 1980, the group became known as Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio. The group released two more albums, Two Places at the Same Time in 1980 and A Woman Needs Love in 1981. he also produced the hard funk single “Sweat (till you get wet)” by Brick. During the 1980s, Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio had three hits -Two Places at the Same Time”, “That Old Song” and, “A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do)”,
After Raydio broke up in 1981. Parker continued with his solo career, scoring six Top 40 hits, including the hit singles “The Other Woman” and “Ghostbusters” which was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1984 but lost to Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You” from The Woman in Red. Parker’s song secured him a 1984 Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance. He also recorded “I Still Can’t Get Over Loving You” and “Jamie”.
Parker was one of the first black artists to venture into the then-fledgling world of music videos. In 1978, Hollywood producer Thom Eubank produced several music videos of songs by Raydio’s including “Jack & Jill” and “The Other Woman”. Parker also wrote and produced hits for New Edition (“Mr. Telephone Man”), Randy Hall, Cheryl Lynn (“Shake It Up Tonight”), Deniece Williams (“I Found Love”) and Diana Ross. He performed guitar on several songs on La Toya Jackson’s 1980 debut album. In 1989, he also wrote “Ghostbusters”, a rap performed by Run-D.M.C., for the movie Ghostbusters II.
In 1989 Parker worked with actor Jack Wagner (General Hospital) on an album, which contained the song “Wish You Were Mine”, which featured an intro rap by Parker. In 2006, Parker released a new CD titled I’m Free. Parker is also the founder and owner of the Los Angeles-based recording facility Ameraycan Recording Studios. In July 2016, Parker performed on ABC’s Greatest Hits. In 2014, Parker was invited by producer Gerry Gallagher to record with Latin rock legends El Chicano, Alphonse Mouzon, Brian Auger, Alex Ligertwood, Siedah Garrett, Walfredo Reyes Jr., Spencer Davis, Lenny Castro, Vikki Carr, Pete Escovedo, Peter Michael Escovedo, Jessy J, Marcos J. Reyes, Salvador Santana, and David Paich and is featured on guitar on the song “Something Got Me Started” from Gallagher’s most recent studio album due out in 2017.
Parker has also appeared on many television programmes including Gimme a Break, Pryor’s Place (for which Parker appeared in the opening title sequence singing the theme song), Disorderlies, Enemy Territory, Charlie Barnett’s Terms of Enrollment, two episodes of Berrenger’s, and Uptown Saturday Night (1974). He was also a production assistant for the film Fly by Night and made guest appearances on 21 Jump Street and Kids Incorporated. In early 2009, Parker appeared in a television advertisement for 118 118. In 2014, Parker appeared in the fifth episode of the first season of NBC’s romantic comedy television series A to Z, singing the “Ghostbusters” theme song for a Halloween party. Ray Parker also appeared onTV One’s series, Unsung.