What You Need To Know About The Huey Lewis And Ray Parker Jr. Controversy

The Huey Lewis and Ray Parker Jr. controversy started when Lewis sued Parker because Parker's hit song, "Ghostbusters," sounded remarkably like Huey Lewis and the News' own hit song, "I Want a New Drug." But if we're being honest about this thing, the lawsuit probably wasn't just because it was a clear rip off, (click here to hear a comparison from mprnews) but more so because the song went — ehem — gangbusters, i.e. became very lucrative.  

As legend has it, both Lindsay Buckingham and Huey Lewis were approached to create the song for the original Ghostbusters movie, and both declined. Parker was tapped to do the song and he agreed. Parker has never said he purposely ripped off the song, but according to Ledgernote, the filmmakers may have planted the seed of the sound of the song. 

Ledgernote reported that according to the now defunct magazine Premiere, the film's producers admitted in 2004 that they used the song "I Want a New Drug" as the temporary background music in certain scenes, including a clip they sent to Parker for inspiration. This is after Lewis turned down the opportunity to write the theme song for 1984's Ghostbusters, so it seems even though the filmmakers couldn't get Lewis, they could still get someone to recreate his band's super-successful '80s corporate rock sound. 

Parker's anthem to bustin' ghosts stayed at number one on the U.S. singles chart for three straight weeks and was nominated for best original song at the 57th Academy Awards, per mprnews.

Huey Lewis sued Ray Parker Jr., and Parker sued him back

According to MPRNews, an agreement was reached in 1985 and the copyright dispute was settled out of court, with the stipulation that no one talk about the details, ever. Kinda like Fight Club minus the all the blood. But about a decade-and-a-half later, Lewis did just that in a very public way. 

MTV reported that during a 2001 interview on VH1's Behind the Music, Lewis said, "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."

Due to the confidentiality agreement being breached, Parker's lawsuit claimed it caused him emotional distress. MTV reported the suit said the confidentiality agreement "directly related to [Parker's] comfort, happiness and welfare," and called Lewis' comments "inflammatory, disparaging," and "false." 

In a 2016 interview with Ray Parker Jr. on the Adam Corolla Show (posted on YouTube) Parker said of that lawsuit, "I sued him and I got money," adding, "Oh by the way, I like him. I mean, I've never met him ... for some reason he attacked me and I don't really think I had anything to do with it."