Saturday, July 7, 2012

Paul Jabara

We cannot properly memorialize Donna Summer without mentioning Paul Jabara, the late  songwriter and performer who won the Academy Award for Best Original Song after his Last Dance was performed by Summer in the  disco movie, Thank God It's Friday. Jabara had a bit part in the film and his own track, Trapped In The Stairway, was included on the terrific soundtrack.

Paul Jabara (January 31, 1948 – September 29, 1992) was an American actor, singer, and songwriter of Lebanese ancestry. He wrote Donna Summer's "Last Dance" from Thank God It's Friday (1978) and Barbra Streisand's song "The Main Event/Fight" from The Main Event (1979). He cowrote the Weather Girls hit, "It's Raining Men" with Paul Shaffer. Jabara's cousin and close friend Jad Azkoul is also a Lebanese-American musician specialising in classical guitar.


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 appeared in John Schlesinger's 1975 film, "The Day of the Locust", where he sang the production number "Hot Voo-Doo". In 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.
Jabara starred in the 1981 comedy movie, Honky Tonk Freeway as a truck driver/songwriter T. J. Tupus, hauling lions and a rhino.

Songwriter and singer

Jabara wrote the book, music, lyrics and starred in an abortive Broadway musical, Rachael Lily Rosenbloom (And Don't You Ever Forget It) which played the Broadhurst Theatre in New York City in 1973. It closed in previews prior to its official opening and was never reviewed by the press. No recording was made of the score, which featured both Jabara's trademark disco music as well as more traditional Broadway-style numbers.
Jabara released his first album, Shut Out in 1977. Jabara's solo albums on the legendary disco label Casablanca Records include three duets with Donna Summer; "Shut Out" (1977), "Something's Missing" (1978) and "Never Lose Your Sense Of Humor" (1979).
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". Jabara's album Paul Jabara & Friends, released in 1983, features guest vocals by a then-20 year old Whitney Houston. It also includes the song "It's Raining Men". That song was later re-recorded several years later by drag supermodel RuPaul and Martha Wash. Wash sang on the original recording as part of the group the Weather Girls.
Some other songs Jabara wrote for others to perform include:
  1. "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)", a duet by Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer which was a Billboard number one hit;
  2. "Jinxed!", 1981, written for Bette Midler and her movie of the same name but never commercially released;
  3. "Work That Body", Diana Ross' 1982 hit single included on her album Why Do Fools Fall in Love;
  4. "Two Lovers" for Julio Iglesias (1984).

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.
Jabara received many awards for his work throughout his lifetime. He died of complications from AIDS in Los Angeles on September 29, 1992.


Studio albums

Soundtracks and compilations

  • Various Artists - Original Soundtrack - Thank God It's Friday (2 tracks as performer, 4 as composer, Casablanca Records, 1978)
  • Greatest Hits... and Misses (Casablanca Records/PolyGram, 1989)
  • The Casablanca Records Story (PolyGram, 1994)
  • Mother, Jugs and Speed soundtrack (Dance)

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