Thirty years ago, Ray Parker, Jr. got the call that changed his life.
The R&B vocalist-guitarist, previously best known for such hits as "The Other Woman" and "I Still Can't Get Over Loving You," was offered the opportunity to write the theme song for an upcoming Bill Murray-Dan Aykroyd-Harold Ramis comedy. He accepted -- and planted himself in pop culture history.
The film was the 1984 blockbuster "Ghostbusters." And the similarly named song was as big a hit as the movie itself.
"It went to No. 1 or No. 2 in 52 countries around the world," Parker remembers during a recent phone interview. "I like all my songs -- I am not partial to one or the other. But, obviously, the 'Ghostbusters' thing was so past being huge."
It remains his calling card to this day.
"Seven-year-old kids know who I am because of that song," says Parker, who performs Saturday at Yoshi's San Francisco. "That song is still popular with the kids today -- just like Mickey Mouse."
Parker had no clue he had written a song that people would be quoting from 30 years later.
"I had no idea that we were going to be talking about it in the first place -- in the first year," says the 60-year-old Southern California resident. "Just the phrase -- 'Who you gonna call?' -- I would have never thought it would be that popular. That's like 'What's happening?' or 'Hello, how you doing?' or 'Happy birthday' or something. It really caught on."
Of course, "Ghostbusters" is only part of Parker's story. As a solo artist, he scored several top 40 R&B hits in the '80s and early '90s. He's also worked with a who's who of the music industry, including Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and Barry White.
"You learn something different from each person," says Parker, who was recently honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. "Even if you're not trying to learn anything -- just being in the room with them and hanging out for a long time, you just pick up different things."
He can now pass on what he's learned to his four sons.
"I tell my kids, if you really want to do it, you have to be aggressive, go out and do it. And don't let anybody tell you that you're not good enough," he says. "I think fear is what stops most people from being successful."
It's been a long time since Parker released his last solo studio record -- 2006's "I'm Free." Yet, that drought should end soon.
"I'm building a new studio at my house," he says. "I'm going to try to get one record per year out. This one record every five or six years is way too slow. I don't like driving to the studios anymore, so I really need one at home."
Details: Parker plays 8 and 10 p.m. Saturday at Yoshi's San Francisco; $29-$39, www.yoshis.com.
ROCK RECITAL: Chester Farrow's life has been filled with two of my all-time favorite things:
Live music and the Oakland A's. And, I list those in no particular order.
The Walnut Creek native was hired to work the scoreboard for the mighty Green and Gold in 1969. He's been getting paid to watch the A's ever since. He also taught broadcast media courses at Monte Vista High School in Danville for more than three decades. Before retiring in 1999, Farrow produced many concerts at the school's theater -- featuring such local talents as Huey Lewis, Journey, Greg Kihn and Joe Satriani.
Once a year, Farrow joins with some former pupils to mount a concert -- dubbed the Rock and Roll Recital. The 16th annual Rock and Roll Recital is set for Thursday at the Village Theatre in Danville. The concert is a showcase for more than 40 guitar students, all under the tutelage of Danville musician Bruce Hock.
"This is such a thrill for the guitar students -- when will they ever have a chance to perform on a big stage?" Farrow says. "The energy is very high, and audiences love the show. The music is great."