Halloween is the perfect occasion to celebrate everything spooky and haunting. It is the one day of the year that ghosts of all shapes and sizes venture out of their hiding places and dare to yell: “Boo!” So is it any wonder that the popular song penned by Ray Parker Jr. called “Ghostbusters” would become the phenomenon it is today? Since its debut in 1984, the song has swept the globe and enthralled generations of fans with its catchy phrase: “Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters!” And no matter where he goes, Ray Parker Jr. is known as the man who brought this fun ghost song to life.
In an exclusive interview, Ray Parker Jr. talked about his special guest-cameo in the Halloween episode of NBC’s comedy series A TO Z and the enduring legacy of the “Ghostbusters” song.
It is awesome that A TO Z chose to go with a “Ghostbusters” theme for its Halloween episode this year, isn’t it?
RAY: Yeah, I can’t wait to see it.
How were you approached to do this appearance on A TO Z? Did they just call you up and say that they would love to have you on the show?
RAY: (Laughs) It was pretty much just like that. I was actually on a cruise ship, taking a cruise to Alaska when I got the phone call. They had put out one of those APB things on Facebook and all my friends started calling me. It’s pretty funny actually.
Is that unusual to be approached to play yourself on a fictional TV show?
RAY: No. I’ve actually done it several times before. I love being on TV. It’s a lot of fun. In fact, I’m in New York where I just finished the Meredith Vieira show.
Did you ever envision that this would be one of your most enduring legacies — to be the man who wrote and sings the “Ghostbusters” theme song?
RAY: I think its a wonderful legacy. All the kids know about it. It’s an interesting song. I think I’ve had 29 hit records and not one is like “Ghostbusters.” It is like it came out yesterday. All the kids know what it is. It is just a popular song.
That has to feel really good knowing that you created a song that everybody loves and everybody knows.
RAY: (Laughs) Yeah, it’s an amazing thing. I love it. People ask me all the time if I’m tired of it, and I say, “absolutely not!”
So what was it like working on A TO Z for their “Ghostbusters” episode?
RAY: I got to meet a bunch of new people. I didn’t know anybody on the show because they are all younger people — and beautiful people, by the way, and very talented. It was a lot of fun on the show. They really know how to party and made me feel comfortable. It was really a nice time. So I’m looking forward to seeing it on TV.
What would you like fans to know about you appearing on the show and getting to be a part of their Halloween themed episode?
RAY: I think people should know that we were all smiling and having a great time. I think those who watch it are going to be uplifted and are going to have a good time too. It will entertain, which is the whole point of everything.
Are you rooting for Andrew and Zelda to stay together? One of the mysteries of the first season is whether they end up together or if something goes wrong on the way to happily-ever after?
RAY: (Laughs) I don’t know, but I love them, and from the part I saw, I don’t think anyone breaks up in my episode.
Will we be hearing you sing on the show this week?
RAY: Yeah, you’ll be hearing me sing a couple of lines and then we all sing with the crowd.
Do you still get to perform the “Ghostbusters” song for other live events?
RAY: (Laughs) I don’t think I can do a concert and not play that song. I did a big show last Friday night at the Apollo Theater. It was myself, Herbie Hancock, Chaka Kahn, Quincy Jones, Verdine White from Earth Wind & Fire. That was the hottest show. We played a couple Earth Wind & Fire songs, some Chaka Kahn and a bunch of Herbie Hancock songs. That was probably the only concert where I didn’t play one of my songs.
From all the entertainment buzz, it seems like there might be a revival of the “Ghostbusters” movie. Could you see your song possibly being used in that capacity again if they do a new film?
RAY: I certainly hope so! No one’s called me, but they usually don’t call me until the last minute. But I would hope that they would use the song. And All my friends and family have told me that it would be hard to picture that movie with no one singing, “who ya gonna call?”
Do you think people see you separate from the song, like the song has a life of its own now?
RAY: It does. It has a life of its own now. But people still look at me and they don’t even say, “Hi, Ray” anymore. They just say, “who ya gonna call?” I think I’m married to that song, and that’s okay. I’m not upset about that. It’s a wonderful thing.
To see what ghosts and goblins are offered up in this special All Hallow’s Eve episode of A TO Z and to hear a bit of the iconic “Ghostbusters” song sang by Ray Parker Jr., be sure to tune in on Thursday, October 30th at 9:30 p.m. on NBC. After all, who you gonna call when something goes bump in the night at your house?
(Press release information: “E is for Ectoplasm” – ANDREW AND ZELDA DECIDE TO TEAM UP TO THROW A MONSTER OF A HALLOWEEN BASH—RAY PARKER JR. GUEST STARS—Andrew (Ben Feldman) and Zelda (Cristin Milioti) break with their respective traditions and decide to throw a joint Halloween party, much to the dismay of Stu (Henry Zebrowski) and Stephie (Lenora Crichlow), who feel like they are losing their best friends. Meanwhile, with Big Bird (Christina Kirk) looking for a solid promotional opportunity to boost the profile of the company, Henry takes it upon himself to enlist the help of Ray Parker Jr. (guest starring as himself) to attend their annual Wallflower Halloween party. Also starring are Hong Chau, Parvesh Cheena and Katey Sagal as the Narrator. Ben Falcone guest stars.)