Charlie's 80s Blog

This Day In 80s Music, August 11th

On this day in 1984: Ray Parker Jr. started a three week run at #1 on the U.S. singles chart with the theme from the film ‘Ghostbusters’. Parker who had been a session guitarist for Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye was accused of plagiarizing the melody from the Huey Lewis and the News song ‘I Want a New Drug’, resulting in Lewis suing Parker, the pair settled out of court in 1985.

According to Parker, he was approached by the film’s producers to create a theme song for the film, though he only had a few days to do so and the film’s title seemed impossible to include in any lyrics. However, when watching television late at night, Parker saw a cheap commercial for a local service that reminded him that the film had a similar commercial featured for the fictional business. This inspired him to write the song as a pseudo-advertising jingle that the business could have commissioned as a promotion.

Lindsey Buckingham claims to have been approached to write the Ghostbusters theme based on his successful contribution to Harold Ramis’s National Lampoon’s Vacation (the song “Holiday Road”). He turned down the opportunity as he did not want to be known as a soundtrack artist. He mentions this on the “Words & Music” interview disc. The theme is estimated to have added $20 million to the film’s box office gross.

Shortly after the film’s release, Huey Lewis sued Ray Parker Jr. for plagiarism, alleging he had copied the melody (primarily the bassline) from Lewis’ 1983 song “I Want a New Drug”. The case was settled out of court in 1985 for an undisclosed sum and a confidentiality agreement that prohibited discussing the case. According to Parker there were several lawsuits at the time, because “when you sell that many records, I think everybody wants to say that they wrote the song.” Parker later sued Lewis for breaching the confidentiality agreement in a 2001 episode of VH1’s Behind The Music, by reasserting Parker, Jr. stole the song. Regarding his case against Lewis, Parker said, “I got a lot of money out of that.”

In a 2004 article, the filmmakers admitted to using the song “I Want a New Drug” as temporary background music in many scenes. They also noted that they had offered to hire Huey Lewis and the News to write the main theme but the band had declined. The filmmakers then gave film footage – with the Huey Lewis song in the background – to Parker to aid him in writing the theme song.

Here’s a look at the Top 20 on the U.S. singles chart from this day back in 1984:

1 2 GHOSTBUSTERS –•– Ray Parker, Jr. (Arista)-9 (1 Week at #1) (1)
2 1 WHEN DOVES CRY –•– Prince (Warner Brothers)-11 (1)
3 3 STATE OF SHOCK –•– The Jacksons with Mick Jagger (Epic)-7 (3)
4 5 WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT –•– Tina Turner (Capitol)-13 (4)
5 7 SAD SONGS (Say So Much) –•– Elton John (Geffen)-10 (5)
6 8 STUCK ON YOU –•– Lionel Richie (Motown)-8 (6)
7 4 DANCING IN THE DARK –•– Bruce Springsteen (Columbia)-12 (2)
8 10 I CAN DREAM ABOUT YOU –•– Dan Hartman (MCA)-15 (8)
9 6 INFATUATION –•– Rod Stewart (Warner Brothers)-12 (6)
10 17 SUNGLASSES AT NIGHT –•– Corey Hart (EMI-America)-12 (10)

11 9 BREAKIN’… THERE’S NO STOPPING US –•– Ollie & Jerry (Polydor)-11 (9)
12 23 MISSING YOU –•– John Waite (EMI-America)-8 (12)
13 15 IF EVER YOU’RE IN MY ARMS AGAIN –•– Peabo Bryson (Elektra)-14 (13)
14 12 LEGS –•– ZZ Top (Warner Brothers)-13 (8)
15 16 PANAMA –•– Van Halen (Warner Brothers)-8 (15)
16 11 EYES WITHOUT A FACE –•– Billy Idol (Chrysalis)-15 (4)
17 19 ROUND AND ROUND –•– Ratt (Atlantic)-9 (17)
18 13 JUMP (For My Love) –•– The Pointer Sisters (Planet)-16 (3)
19 29 IF THIS IS IT –•– Huey Lewis & The News (Chrysalis)-4 (19)
20 34 SHE BOP –•– Cyndi Lauper (Portrait)-4 (20)

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