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.
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.
Burial: Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, Kings County, New York, USA. Plot: Section 34, Lot 33232
We'll Be Here For the Rest of Our Lives: A Swingin' Showbiz Saga by Paul Shaffer & David Ritz
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (November 2, 2010)
Amazon: We'll Be Here For the Rest of Our Lives: A Swingin' Showbiz Saga
Paul Shaffer—born and bred music junkie and longtime leader of David Letterman’s Late Show band—opens up in this candid, endearing, hilarious, and star-studded memoir. From playing seedy strip joints in Toronto, to being the first musical director of Saturday Night Live and helping to form the Blues Brothers, to being onstage every night with David Letterman and playing with the greatest musicians of our time, Shaffer has lived the ultimate showbiz life. Now—dishing on everyone from John Belushi and Jerry Lewis to Mel Gibson and Britney Spears—Paul gives us the full behind-the-scenes story of his life, from banging out pop tunes on the piano at the age of twelve to leading the band every night at the Sullivan Theater.
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