Everyone knows Ray Parker Jr. as the singer behind the Ghostbusters song, and that’s it. However, there’s much more to the man, and an entire career and body of work that has gone underappreciated. That may all change with a new documentary, Who You Gonna Call? which chronicles the musician’s incredible life and career. It is being released by Sony Pictures Entertainment to digital platforms on June 7, according to Variety.
The documentary is directed by Fran Strine and first premiered in September of 2020 at the Zurich Film Festival. Sony Pictures acquired the distribution rights soon after, according to The Wrap, and it is finally seeing a release. While the documentary will feature his work to create the Ghostbusters song, it will also go back to tell Parker Jr.’s life story. That includes his youth, where he grew up on the racially-charged Detroit streets in the 1960s and eventually went on to become an incredibly successful musician.
His music career is fully covered, which included his time playing (at the age of 18) with Stevie Wonder when he was the opening act for The Rolling Stones during their legendary 1972 tour. As an R&B musician, Ray Parker Jr. had a number of hits, both solo and as leader of the group Raydio. He worked with a number of Motown legends, including Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, The Temptations, Herbie Hancock, and Barry White. Both Wonder and Hancock appear in the film. It was his Ghostbusters song, however, that earned him worldwide fame, including a Grammy Award. He also earned an Oscar nomination for the song and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Strine first met Parker while filming his 2016 documentary Hired Gun, which told the stories of the session and touring musicians who toured with some of the biggest names in music, yet are largely unknown. Parker got his start as a session musician, and his life story fascinated Strine. “When I interviewed Ray for my previous documentary ‘Hired Gun,’ I knew there was a bigger story to tell,” Strine said in a press release. “From the moment I sat down with him, I was instantly hooked on telling his life’s story. When most people think of Ray Parker Jr they think of ‘Ghostbusters.’ Yes, he’s had great success with that song, but Ray is so much more than that.” Parker worked closely with Strine on the film and even gave him access to his extensive archives.
Ghostbusters fans will likely be most interested in the story behind the creation of the movie’s theme song, which was triggered when Ivan Reitman personally called him to write the song for the film, which would become a 1980s classic that still resonates and entertains today, especially with the sequel Ghostbusters Afterlife becoming a hit in 2021. It will even cover the infamous lawsuit that arose from the song when Huey Lewis sued him, claiming Parker copied his song “I Want a New Drug.” Nevertheless, the film will focus on Parker’s personal and professional triumphs. “At a very young age, I knew I wanted to be a musician. It was my dream. My life,” Parker said in a statement. “I did everything and anything I could to make that happen. I’d like to say that luck was very much on my side, but I think dedication and determination to make my dreams come true played a larger part.”
Ray Parker Jr. has earned two Grammy nominations outside of his Ghostbusters work, with the latest in 2004 for his jazz album Rural Renewal. He earned multiple gold records as an R&B artist and wrote songs for Barry White and Chaka Khan. He continues to tour and is working on his autobiography.