Huey Lewis & The News vs. Ray Parker Jr.

June 8th, 2007 by

submitted by Lawrence

Huey Lewis & The News - "I Want a New Drug" (1984)

Ray Parker Jr. - "Ghostbusters Theme " (1984)

This post has been updated:
Check out the addition of the Bar-Kays’ “Soul finger” (1967) and Queen “The Invisible Man” (1989):
Huey Lewis & The News vs. Ray Parker vs. The Bar-Kays vs. Queen

I found this on wikipedia regarding the Huey Lewis & The News track “I Want a New Drug” (1984) and Ray Parker Jr.’s theme to the movie Ghostbusters (also 1984). Ever since this song, if  anyone asks me “who I’m gonna call” you know what I’m gonna say.

In 1984, Ray Parker Jr. was signed by the producers of Ghostbusters to develop the film’s title song. Later that year, Huey Lewis and the News sued Parker, citing the similarities between the “Ghostbusters” song and their earlier hit “I Want a New Drug”. According to Huey Lewis and the News, this was especially damaging to them since “Ghostbusters” was so popular, rising to number one on the charts for three weeks. Parker and Lewis later settled out of court. Huey Lewis has stated that his experiences with the producers of Ghostbusters may have been indirectly responsible for getting his band involved with the movie Back to the Future.

In the 2001 Behind the Music special, Huey Lewis stated: “The offensive part was not so much that Ray Parker Jr. had ripped this song off, it was kind of symbolic of an industry that wants something—they wanted our wave, and they wanted to buy it. … [I]t’s not for sale. … In the end, I suppose they were right. I suppose it was for sale, because, basically, they bought it.” As a result of this statement, Parker Jr. filed a suit against Lewis, claiming he violated the settlement’s confidentiality agreement and seeking an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages as well as attorney fees.

An issue of Premiere Magazine would later feature an anniversary article about the movie Ghostbusters. In that article, the filmmakers admit to using the song “I Want A New Drug” as temporary background music in many scenes. They then said that they had made an offer to Huey Lewis and the News to write the main theme, but they declined. The filmmakers then provided Ray Parker Jr film footage—with the Huey Lewis song in the background—to aid Parker in writing the theme song.  - Huey Lewis & The News on Wikipedia

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17 Responses to “Huey Lewis & The News vs. Ray Parker Jr.”

  1. avatar alex says:

    actually, HL&TN took Ray Parker, Jr. to court for stealing the bassline and won.
    There’s a reason it’s so close!

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  2. avatar steve says:

    Actually, Huey Lewis sued Ray Parker and won…

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  3. avatar Fox says:

    Technically Huey Lewis didn’t win, it was settled out of court, and now Lewis is being sued by Parker for breach of contract by publicly speaking about it. Part of the settlement was that he would no longer mention it (for whatever reason, probably because Lewis was actually right).

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  4. avatar Mac says:

    I have heard that HL&TN were actually asked to do the theme song for ghostbusters, as they did alot of theme songs for films in that era, but declined. Then Ray Parker got the gig, and proceeded to blatantly rip off Huey?

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  5. avatar B says:

    In 1984, Ray Parker Jr. was signed by the producers of Ghostbusters to develop the film’s title song. Later that year, Huey Lewis and the News sued Parker, citing the similarities between the Ghostbusters theme song and their earlier hit “I Want a New Drug”. According to Huey Lewis and the News, this was especially damaging to them since the Ghostbusters theme song was so popular, rising to number one on the charts for three weeks. Parker and Lewis later settled out of court.[2] Huey Lewis has stated that his experiences with the producers of Ghostbusters may have been indirectly responsible for getting his band involved with the movie Back to the Future.
    In the 2001 Behind the Music special, Huey Lewis stated: “The offensive part was not so much that Ray Parker Jr. had ripped this song off, it was kind of symbolic of an industry that wants something — they wanted our wave, and they wanted to buy it. … [I]t’s not for sale. … In the end, I suppose they were right. I suppose it was for sale, because, basically, they bought it.”[3] As a result of this statement, Ray Parker Jr. has filed a suit against Huey Lewis, claiming he violated the settlement’s confidentiality agreement and seeking an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages as well as attorney fees. The lawsuit is ongoing.

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    jack Reply:

    I remember Ray Parker’s music and he never played any music that sounded like he’d ever write a song like ” Ghost busters” theme. In my opinion I think he did the same thing alot of rappers did in the early nineties – ripped off that groove and placed his own melody on top of it.

    To my knowledge, the copyright laws don’t cover “grooves” they only cover Melodies and lyrics. That’s the same way James Brown lost some of his music to the Hip Hop Community.

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  6. avatar frankie smales says:

    it is obsurd two artists suing each other a song it is abosultely riddiculous
    and there was a cover version of the hit song flash by vangard originally
    concieved by queen and the other was like a prayer by mad’house again
    originaly concieved by madonna and lastly mcfly did a version of the ghostbusters
    song for a concert of thiers the song ghostbusters was harold ramis’s idea
    for the song so he admited on the ghostbusters bluray 25th anniversarie
    special edition at the end of the day it is a song it do not matter of who
    did it first .

    frankie smales

    (frankie smales movie and tv review uk)

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  7. avatar km9000 says:

    “at the end of the day it is a song it do not matter of who did it first .”

    I love how “At the end of the day” can be used to justify almost anything. “At the end of the day, she can’t come back to life, so there’s no point in putting him on trial for murder.”

    Now If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to rip off “Billie Jean” and work on my future hit song now…

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  8. avatar dxman says:

    They both borrowed this riff from M’s Pop Musik.

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    Keith Reply:

    Wow. Excellent find!

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    chris Reply:

    Agreed. btw “Gimme that Nut” by Easy-E mashes-up with these riffs very well

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  9. avatar Paul says:

    I believe both songs are inspired by Shake Your Body To The Ground by The Jacksons if you can hear the keyboard riff closely.

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  10. avatar Steve says:

    Even further back, anyone ever hear Soul Finger by the Bar Kays from the 60s.

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    Keith Reply:

    Excellent Steve! I’ll be sure to post this shortly.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4Loke9v9nk
    Even the “Soul Finger” shouts in the song remind me of “Ghostbusters!”

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    Rodney Reply:

    You are absolutely correct! I had to go back and listen to Soul Finger and there was a point in that song where you can hear where their inspiration came from. You got some good ears on you.

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  11. avatar Chris says:

    The base line is similar to both Soul Finer and I want a New Drug! But the melody is totally different. And that seperates the Ghost Busters song from all the rest!

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