*It was a long distance call, but a phone call that producer, songwriter, singer, and keyboardist Kashif had to make to reach the multi-dimensional singer, guitarist, recording artist and producer Ray Parker, Jr. After all, Parker was more than 6,000 miles from Los Angeles, and Kashif wanted to ask him to perform at the 2nd Annual Kashif & Friends Black Music Month Celebration. Initially, he wanted Parker for both Friday, June 17 and Saturday, June 18 (7:00 p.m. and 10 p.m. each night) at Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood, California, but could only get him for one night.
“I think I was traveling somewhere in Europe when Kashif called me last month,” Parker told EURweb’s Lee Bailey. “He had this long story about what he wanted me to do for this show. I told him I didn’t need to know all the details. I told him if he’s involved in it, and if he wants me to be involved, put my name down and count me in.”
Parker told Kashif that he could only do the two shows on June 17, because he was leaving for China the following day. Yet, Kashif was excited to have the legendary singer and musician commit to perform for one night. Joining Kashif and Parker will be such musical friends as vocalist Meli’sa Morgan, “The System,” vocalist Howard Johnson, actress/singer Dawnn Lewis, and others.
While Parker is not sure which songs he will perform for the event, there’s no shortage of hits in his music portfolio. As the lead vocalist of his former group “Raydio,” some of the hit songs included “Jack and Jill,” “You Can’t Change That,” “A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do),” “That Old Song,” “Two Places at the Same Time,” and more.
As a solo artist, Parker charted with such hits as “The Other Woman” “I Still Can’t Get Over Loving You,” and “Jamie.” Yet, his most popular hit has been “Ghostbusters,” which sat at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart for three weeks. The song was the theme music for the 1984 blockbuster motion picture “Ghostbusters.” Parker’s vocals and guitar work on the song were epic.
While a new “Ghostbusters” is scheduled to be released in July, the movie’s executives have not called Parker. He was asked if he was upset by the no-call.
“No, I’m all right,” said Parker. “It’s their film and they can do whatever they want to do. But as long as they say (in the movie), ‘Who You Gonna Call?’, or use my themes and music they will have to pay me. And, I just saw a poster for the new ‘Ghostbusters’ that said, ‘Who You Gonna Call?’ ”
Calling Parker has never been an issue for hundreds of record company and studio executives, producers and recording artists over the past 40-plus years. His phone has been ringing since he was a teenager in his native Detroit, Mich., at which time he started doing studio work or performing on stage with such artists as Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Barry White’s “The Love Unlimited Orchestra,” Lamont Dozier, “The Spinners,” and many more. He later wrote songs or performed studio work as a guitarist for such artists as “The Carpenters,” “Rufus” and Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin, Herbie Hancock, Diana Ross, just to name a few.
Parker said he has also collaborated and/or performed with Kashif on many occasions. Therefore, he’s looking forward to performing with Kashif & Friends on June 17.
“Kashif is an upstanding guy,” Parker said. “He is a very creative musician who is very talented. I remember when he helped me on a song with the background and arrangements and didn’t even charge me. The song was named ‘The Past.” He did it as a favor because he heard the music and had an idea for it. I just have the utmost respect for him.”
When Parker was asked about future projects, he rattled off a few.
“I have a book coming out, I’m building a recording studio next door to my house, and have a new record coming out,” he said. “There’s a lot of things going on for me; I’m really busy, busy, busy.”
To purchase tickets for the 2nd Annual Kashif & Friends Black Music Month Celebration, log on to catalinajazzclub.com, or call 323.466.2210. Catalina Jazz Club is located at 6725 W. Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood, California. For more information about Ray Parker, Jr., visit his official website at www.rayparkerjr.com.