Ghostbusters, sometimes referred to as the "Ghostbusters theme song", is a song written and performed by Ray Parker, Jr.. It has been used in just about every incarnation of the Ghostbusters franchise, from the first movie and onward.
- 1 History
- 2 Official Recordings
- 3 Official Releases
- 4 Music Video
- 5 Musicians
- 6 Trivia
- 7 Lyrics
- 8 Legacy
- 9 External links
- 10 References
- 11 Gallery
After test screenings in early 1984, Ivan Reitman wanted song about 20 seconds in length at the beginning of the movie when Peter and Ray enter the New York City Public Library. Reitman simply wanted a song that said "Ghostbusters" in it. Columbia Pictures spent a lot of money to have different musicians, including Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac and Kenny Loggins, write songs to be considered as the main song for the Ghostbusters movie, but could not find one that they liked. Reitman didn't like any songs he got back either. One of the demons submitted in 1983 was from Pat Thrall and Glen Hughes but it was declined and not used for the movie. They did use the Pat Thrall and Glenn Hughes song for the film's ShoWest exhibitor reel. R&B artist Ray Parker, Jr. happened to be dating a woman who was working for Gary LeMel, an old music industry friend. Parker knew LeMel because he used to play guitar on Barry White's records. Gary LeMel, had suggested that he try his hand at writing a song for the film. It was described as a Ghostbusters theme song opening number for a 20 second segment at the end of the first library scene. In place of a music supervisor on the movie, the head of the music department at Columbia Pictures introduced Ray Parker Jr. to Reitman and co-producer Joe Medjuck. Producer Clive Davis who ran Arista at the time didn't want Parker singing a song about ghosts. Parker's forte was songs about romancing women. Davis took a lot of convincing.
The catch was that the song was needed in two to three days since the film due to be released soon. The movie producers wanted a song people could sing along with - without "too much meaning". The hardest task for Parker was coming up with a rhyme for "Ghostbusters". He was half-asleep one night and saw an exterminator commercial on TV. He realized he could frame the song as a commercial and have the chorus scream "Ghostbusters" instead of having to do something conventional like rhyming it. The next day, he finished recording and submitted a cassette tape with just under one and half minutes of the song to Reitman. A short time later, Reitman called Parker at 3:30 or 4:30 in the morning praising the song. Reitman pushed for the 20 second intro song to be made into a single backed by a music video.
These are official recordings of the song by Ray Parker Jr. that have been released to the public by Arista and Sony. Runtimes listed are the official runtimes as listed on the record singles, images of most can be found in the Gallery section below. Some sources list a runtime that is a second or two different, so runtimes are listed as a guide and not meant to be 100% exact.
It should also be noted that a few of the 7"/45-rpm records list a 3:45 "regular" version and a 4:07 "Instrumental" version, but that may be an error. No other versions of the "regular" and "instrumental" versions are so short. Maybe the two songs were sped-up for jukebox play. Until it can be proved if that's the case, or not, they are not being listed below but will be noted in this paragraph.
- Album Version/7" Version/Short Version (4:04) - available on the Soundtrack album and just about every released single.
- Instrumental Version (4:48) - available on the Soundtrack album and the 30th anniversary record single.
- Extended Version/12" Single Remix (6:08) - available on several record singles, Ray Parker Jr.'s "Chartbusters" album, and the 2006 reissue of the soundtrack album.
- Searchin' For The Spirit Remix (5:19) - available on the Searchin' For The Spirit/Dub Instrumental Version record single. 
- Dub Version (5:35) - available on the 30th Anniversary record single.
- Dub Instrumental Version (5:30) - available on the Searchin' For The Spirit/Dub Instrumental Version record single.
- 2009 Re-Recording (3:42) - available on the Atari Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime website for a limited time in 2011. Do note that the original Atari MP3 has ID3 data that gives a "2007" date, which either means that this version was recorded two years before it debuted to the public, or the 2007 date could simply be a mistake.)
|Name of Release||Record Label||Catalog #||Song versions of Note||Year|
|Ghoshbusters 7" Record Single (Flashback)|
|Ghostbusters Extended Version Record Single|
|Ghoshbusters Picture Disc Record Single (Round, Glow in the Dark)|
|Ghoshbusters Picture Disc Record Single (Shaped)|
|Ghoshbusters Searchin' For The Spirit UK Record Single|
|Ghoshbusters Japanese 2-Track Record Single|
|Ghoshbusters German 7" Record Single|
|Ghoshbusters German 12" Maxi-Single Record Single|
|Ghoshbusters Girls Are More Fun Record Single|
|Extreme Ghostbusters-branded UK Promotional CD Single||BMG||BMGSM19||Ghostbusters (Original Ghostbusters Theme Tune) (4:07?)||1998|
|Ghoshbusters 30th Anniversary Record Single (Glow in the Dark)|
|Ghostbusters Marshmallow Colored Vinyl Wal-Mart Exclusive||Sony Legacy||April 30, 2020|
Like many movie soundtrack videos, it uses both a recreation of the concept of the movie and actual clips from the movie. However, its an interesting music video as many actors (many of which didn't appear in the Ghostbusters film) show up singing the song in little bit cameos. The lead is singer Ray Parker Jr. and lead actress is Cindy Harrell.
The music video was recorded at A&M Studios in Hollywood without a proper director. Ivan Reitman sort of just took over directing it. The set of the haunted house was still being constructed up to when filming started. An old shooting technique of painting on glass then shooting through the house created the drawn look. After the painter started, Reitman set up the camera and the video was shot. Parker was a little concerned about looking silly as a singing ghost but Reitman ran with the concept and recruited celebrity cameos. Some cameos were favors that were called in. Teri Garr just filmed "Tootsie" with Bill Murray. Reitman, Medjuck and a small crew went to where "Brewster's Millions" was shooting, made their way past security, and had John Candy shoot his cameo between takes. While filming "No Small Affair" at Burbank Studios, George Wendt filmed his cameo for free during a lunch break. He later got in trouble with the Screen Actors Guild for that arrangement but was merely told not to do so again.
For the ending of the music video, the crew blocked off Times Square at the same time the press junket for the movie took place in New York. The scene was not planned and essentially shot for a day with no permit. On a Friday afternoon at 1 pm, Parker filmed with Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson in character as his backup singers. Murray did an impromptu breakdancing routine. Parker improvised and helped spin Murray around. Since the actors in the music video weren't paid for their appearance, the video could not appear in home video releases for the film.
Cast from Film This doesn't include actors that appear in clips from the film.
- Chevy Chase
- Melissa Gilbert
- John Candy
- Teri Garr
- Ollie E. Brown
- Al Franken
- Carly Simon
- Danny DeVito
- George Wendt
- Irene Cara
- Jeffrey Tambor
- Peter Falk
- Ray Parker, Jr. - vocals, guitar
- Louis Johnson – bass
- Greg Phillinganes – keyboards, synthesizer
- Carlos Vega – drums
- A snippet of the song plays in Ghostbusters in Chapter 01: Start when the logo and title appear, in the montage in Chapter 14: Welcome Aboard, and after Winston Zeddemore declared, "I love this town!" in Chapter 28: Crossing Streams.
- According to Ivan Reitman, there was plans to do a second commercial as an elaborate MTV music video with the Ghostbusters singing the "Ghostbusters" song (that could actually be played on MTV) but the song wasn't just right until too late in post-production.
- The famous "shuffle" performed by the guys at the end of the music video was referenced in the end credits of "The Real Ghostbusters", and again in "Ghostbusters II" for the party Ray and Winston performed at.
- The music video is seen and heard on a television at the beginning of Ray Parker, Jr.'s "Girls Are More Fun" music video. Ray tries to convince a woman, played by Irene Cara, that he's really Ray Parker Jr. She sarcastically rebuffs him by saying, "Yeah, and I'm Irene Cara,", and then walks away. At this point, Ray sees the "Ghostbusters" music video on a television and comments, "Hey! That's me!". Irene Cara also made a cameo appearance in the "Ghostbusters" music video.
- A snippet of the song plays in Ghostbusters II in Chapter 01: Start after Dana Barrett retrieves Oscar from the baby carriage then in the next scene, Ray and Winston dance to and sing the "Ghostbusters" song as a cassette recording plays. They only sing the lyrics "If there's something strange in your neighborhood, who ya gonna call?!" and "And it don't look good."
- A snippet of "Ghostbusters!" from the song plays in Ghostbusters II in Chapter 28: World is Safe Again when the new painting is revealed.
- It took three years to get the rights to use the song on Ghostbusters: The Video Game. Parker was specific about how much he wanted based on how the song would be used.
- It cost $80,000 for the song to be used on Ghostbusters: The Video Game.
- On page 26 of Ghostbusters Volume 2 Issue #20, the group shot is a nod to a scene in Ray Parker, Jr.'s "Ghostbusters" music video
- The song appears as a playable song in Just Dance 2014.
- The front and back cover of the Ghostbusters: Get Real trade paperback references the Ghostbusters' dance move.
- Starting with Ghostbusters International #1, on page 27, the homage to the music video from Volume 2 Issue #20 is reused on the page with the crew's social media links.
- In Ghostbusters International #3, on page 7:
- In panel 2 is Danny DeVito as seen in the "Ghostbusters" music video
- In panel 8 is Peter Falk as seen in the "Ghostbusters" music video
- Ghost Jumpers theme song in Chapter 4 of the Ghostbusters (2016 Movie) is a play on the "Ghostbusters" song.
- On page 7 of Ghostbusters 101 #1, in panel 4, on the right, is the green disc of the "Ghostbusters" song 30th anniversary edition.
- Cover B of Transformers/Ghostbusters Issue #5 is a nod to the Times Square song's music video.
- On page 19 of Ghostbusters Year One Issue #3, in panel 5, the Ghostbusters dance like how they do in the music video for Ray Parker Jr.'s "Ghostbusters" song.
- Danny DeVito, who had a cameo in the music video, was later directed by Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman in Twins and Junior.
If there's something strange,
The song was number one on Billboard's Hot 100.
Parker's "Ghostbusters" and Michael Jackson's "Thriller" were one of the first music videos starring a black music artist to appear on MTV.
The song is responsible for adding the catchphrases "Who you gonna call?" and "I ain't afraid of no ghost" into the pop culture lexicon.
The song has been repeatedly referenced in assorted forms of media.
- The Huey Lewis Controversy (see below) was directly referenced in a portion of the Webcomic The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, where the titular character is humming the song when suddenly a nearby person screams "I WANT A NEEEW DRUG", and then says that he thought Dr. McNinja "was humming Huey Luis".
Huey Lewis Controversy
Huey Lewis filed a lawsuit claiming the song sounded too much like Huey Lewis and the News' "I Want a New Drug." Others found the score's synthesizer notes (that were held for several seconds) akin to the chord struck in Gary Numan's "Cars". The lawsuit was settled out of court and the outcome was kept private.
- "Who Ya Gonna Call? The Inside Story Of The 'Ghostbusters' Music Video" Screen Crush 6/6/2014
- Slash Film "Ray Parker Jr. on the Legacy of 'Ghostbusters', Passing on 'Spaceballs' and His Wild Oscars Performance (Interview)" 9/18/2020 Ray Parker, Jr. says: "The only one I've talked to would be Lindsey Buckingham [of Fleetwood Mac]. I think they had called him to do something. I spoke to him on one of these Zoom calls not too long ago. And I think there was Kenny Loggins and a whole bunch of people they tried. For some reason, no one could come up with a song for that film. What’s interesting is Gary LeMel, who was the vice president of Columbia Pictures at the time, he was 100% sure that I could do it. He knew something that I didn't know."
- Soundcloud Pat Thrall "Thrall Ghostbusters Demo 1983" 6/13/2021
- LexTheRobot YouTube "My Ghostbusters Pet Peeves #116: Cool Heads Under Fire" 1/29/2020
- LexTheRobot YouTube "My Ghostbusters Pet Peeves #116.5: Hughes/Thrall Confirmed!" 2/4/2020
- Ray Parker, Jr. (2019). Cleanin' Up The Town: Remembering Ghostbusters (2019) (Blu-Ray ts. 1:01:52-1:02:02). Bueno Productions. Ray Parker, Jr. says: "Part of it came about because I was dating this girl who worked for Gary LeMel. And I knew Gary LeMel from the Barry White days because I did all the Barry White records. I played the guitar."
- Ray Parker, Jr. (2019). Cleanin' Up The Town: Remembering Ghostbusters (2019) (Blu-Ray ts. 1:02:03-1:02:14). Bueno Productions. Ray Parker, Jr. says: "Then I got a call from Gary because there was just going to be one segment at the library scene. I think it was 20--20 seconds. Long and they just needed a theme song opening number with the words "Ghostbusters" in it."
- MixOnline: Ray Parker Jr. Interview, Sept. 2006
- Ray Parker, Jr. (2019). Cleanin' Up The Town: Remembering Ghostbusters (2019) (Blu-Ray ts. 1:02:26-1:02:34). Bueno Productions. Ray Parker, Jr. says: "I think I recorded a minute, 15--20 seconds in 2 and a half days, three days which is all I had."
- From Spook Central (Fan Site): Pop-Up Video version of the music video
- Ray Parker, Jr. (2019). Cleanin' Up The Town: Remembering Ghostbusters (2019) (Blu-Ray ts. 1:02:54-1:03:24). Bueno Productions. Ray Parker, Jr. says: "I remember the hardest part was putting the words in song. I remember the part of the Ghostbusters movie where they had this solicitation with a phone number. And the night before I turned in the song, I was half asleep and on the TV comes this in-set commercial of the exterminator guys who are gonna get rid of the insects for you. And if you just close your eyes like this and you're real sleepy, the insect guys look to me like Ghostbusters guys."
- Ray Parker, Jr. (2019). Cleanin' Up The Town: Remembering Ghostbusters (2019) (Blu-Ray ts. 1:03:29-1:03:33). Bueno Productions. Ray Parker, Jr. says: "It's a commercial. Who ya gonna call? And the people scream Ghostbusters."
- Bay Area Ghostbusters
- Bay Area Ghostbusters
- Ghostbusters News
- Spook Central
- From Proton Charging (Fan Site): Ollie & Jerry: Breakin'... There's No Stopping Us (Back)
- Shay, Don (November 1985). Making Ghostbusters, p. 47 annotation. New York Zoetrope, New York NY USA, ISBN 0918432685. Ivan Reitman says: "At one point, we planned to do a second commercial for the film -- one that we could work into the montage after they've become famous. I was going to do it as an elaborate MTV music video, with the guys singing the 'Ghostbusters' song -- which we later could have actually played on MTV. Unfortunately, we didn't get the song we liked until late in postproduction, and by that time it was too late to go back and do it."
- Ray Parker, Jr.'s "Girls Are More Fun" music video on YouTube
- Spook Central "Ghostbusters Fan Fest - Ghostbusters: The Video Game Panel" 38:02-38:05 10/4/19 Panelist says: "Getting the rights to that song took all three years."
- Spook Central "Ghostbusters Fan Fest - Ghostbusters: The Video Game Panel" 38:20-38:32 10/4/19 Panelist says: "But like he -- he was like really, "What's it going to be used for? If it's in a commercial, I want this much." He wouldn't just grant us the license. We -- everybody had to work hard to get that to work."
- Playboy "The Untold Story of the Ghostbusters Video Game that was Almost a Masterpiece" 7/13/16