Today, twentythree years ago, Paul Jabara died. A name that doesn’t say anything maybe to our youngsters, but hearing songs as ‘It’s Raining Men’ ‘Last Dance’ and ‘No More Tear’s (Enough is Enough)’ would ring a bell…
He Paul Frederick Jabara, was born in Brooklyn, New York on Januari 31, 1948. He was an American actor, singer, and songwriter of Lebanese ancestry, born in Brooklyn, New York City. – Jabara’s cousin and close friend Jad Azkoul is also a Lebanese-American musician specialising in classical guitar.
Paul Jabara was the only son of Olga and Sam Jabara and was the youngest of three children and had two older sisters, Delores and Claudette. His love of music originated almost from birth, and he entertained his family and their friends as soon as he learned to talk. This multi-talented phenomenon began his career a teenager modeling for magazines and appearing in television commercials. As a teenager, he also auditioned for The Sound of Music and was offered a part in the road company, but his parents wouldn’t allow him to go. His first big break came when he was offered a feature role in the original cast of Hair.
Impressionist Paul Jabara cuddles Donald Sutherland as Karen Black and William Atherton are amused in a scene from the film ‘The Day Of The Locust’, 1974. (Photo by Paramount/Getty Images)
In the 1970’s, Jabara was in the Original cast of the stage musicals ‘Hair’ and ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’. He took over the role of Frank-N-Furter in the Los Angeles Production of ‘The Rocky Horror Show’ when Tim Curry left the production to film the movie version in England. He appeard in John Schlesinger’s 1969 film ‘Midnight Cowboy’, as one of the attendees at the counterculture party, and in Schlesinger’s 1975 film ‘The Day of The Locust, where he sang the song ‘Hot Voo-Doo’.
But it wasn’t only acting he did. Jabara released his first album, ‘Shut Out’ in 1977. Jabara’s solo albums on the legendary disco label Casablance Records include three duets with Donna Summer; ‘Shut Out’ (1977), ‘Something’s Missing (In My Life)’ (1978) and ‘Never Lose Your Sense Of Humor’ (1979).
Paul Jabara and Donna Summer ‘Something’s Missing (In My Life)’ This power ballad has also been recorded by Karen Carpenter, Freda Payne and Australian pop royalty Marcia Hines… It’s recorded in several versions, one of them with Summer is featured on Jabara’s CD ‘Greatest Hits and Misses’.
In the 1978 film ‘Thank God It’s Friday’ he played the role of Carl, the lovelorn and nearsighted disco goer, and he also contributed as a singer on two tracks on the original soundtrack album, with the songs ‘Disco Queen’ and ‘Trapped In A Stairway’.
Thank God It’s Friday album cover.
Donna Summer in ‘Thank God It’s Friday’.
Paul Jabara wrote Donna Summer’s ‘Last Dance’ from ‘Thank God It’s Friday'(1978) and Barbra Streisand’s song ‘The Main Event/Fight’ from the album ‘The Main Event’ (1979).
‘Last Dance’, featured in the film ‘Thank God Its Friday’, earned Jabara a Grammy Award and the 1978 Academy Award for Best Song. Clearly, his music defined an era and continues to keep us all dancing.
In 1979, Jabara won both Grammy Award for Best R&B Song and the Academy Award for Best Original Song for the song performed by Donna Summer, ‘Last Dance’.
Paul Jabara ‘The Third’ album contains the duet with Donna Summer ‘Never Lose Your Sense Of Humor’, a great song with the typical Jabara/Summer sound!
Paul Jabara and Donna Summer ‘Never Lose Your Sense of Humor’.
Donna Summer and Barbra Streisand ‘No More Tears Enough Is Enough’ another monster hit for Paul Jabara (Photo’s by Francesco Scavullo).
1979 was an amazing year for Jabara and Summer. Disco’s big finish in 1979, who could ask for a bigger finish of the greatest era of dance music? The ‘Disco Queen’ and Barbara Streisand together working Paul Jabara’s magic together. This cut was a power house, anyone who experienced the energy that this cut created when it was released will never question it’s reign. Casablanca Records has definitely made a place in music history with this on. The song was a hùge Platinum-certified, #1 Billboard hit.
At right, songwriter Paul Jabara, at the premiere of Bette Midler’s movie, ‘The Rose’, 1979
1981 Jabara starred in yet another John Schlesinger film, the comedy ‘Honky Tonky Freeway’ as truck driver/songwriter T. J. Tupus, hauling lions and a rhino.
Composing myriad hit songs, his credits include many platinum and gold records. He is also known for: ‘Jinxed’ (1981), written for Bette Midler and her movie of the same name, but it was never commercially released. ‘Work That Body’ (1982) a modest hit for Diana Ross. The hit single is included on her Platinum album ‘Why Do Fools Fall In Love’.
He co-wrote The Weather Girls (Sylvester’s former background girls, the Two Tons of Fun: Martha Wash and Izora Rhodes) monster hit ‘It’s Raining Men’ together with Paul Shaffer, which was also recorded by Geri Halliwell and a worldwide hit for the second time in 2001.
The former Two Tons of Fun: The Weather Girls (Matha Wash and Izora Rhodes) with their monster hit ‘It’s Raining Men’ (1984).
Jabara’s album ‘Paul Jabara & Friends’, released in 1983, features guest vocals by a then 20-year-old Whitney Houston on Eternal Love. It also includes the song ‘It’s Raining Men’. An other song Jabara wrote to perform include ‘ Two Lovers’ for Julio Iglesias (1984).
Jabara received many awards for his work throughout his lifetime. Jabara had been honored for creativity and excellence winning numerous awards including The Oscar; Grammy; Golden Globe; People’s Choice Award; Your Choice for the Oscar and many others giving him global recognition.
It has been reported that Jabara co-founded the Red Ribbon Project in 1991, and was credited with conceiving and distributing the first AIDS Red Ribbons. This highly recognized symbol spawned the use of different colored ribbons to quickly raise awareness to other causes and is widely used today.
Paul Jabara died of complications from Aids at the age of 44 in Los Angeles on September 29, 1992. He is buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. As a tribute at his memorial service, his friends and collaborators got together and performed a song he wrote entitled, We’re Gonna Win. Later recorded by long-time friend Donna Summer.
Martha Wash, one of the original members of The Weather Girls, re-recorded several years later, together with drag supermodel RuPaul the It’s Raining Men. Again, it became a huge hit! Like it also was for ex-Spice Girl, Geri Halliwell.
‘A Hot Jabara Summer Night’ 2012
In 2005, a workshop of a musical entitled Last Dance played New York City. It was a musical assembled from Jabara’s well known disco songs and told the story of a modern day teenager who goes back in time to spend one night at Studio 54.
Paul Jabara’s music lives on. Not only ‘the big names’ in the industry still performing his songs. Every season of Idols or .. Got Talent, we can here some of his songs performed by the ‘new’ artist. We hear his music still in films, and in clubs, and sometimes in the most fantastic long versions or remixes. Yes, it’s still a Hot Jabara Summer Night then. And it will always be……
by Jean Amr