Paul Jabara, of Lebanese ancestry, was born in Brooklyn, New York City. 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.
Paul 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 1969 film Midnight Cowboy, as a hippie handing out pills ("Up or Down?") at the counterculture party, and in Schlesinger's 1975 film The Day of the Locust , where he sang a cover of the Marlene Dietrich song "Hot Voo-Doo" in drag.
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. In 1981 Jabara starred in yet another John Schlesinger film, the comedy Honky Tonk Freeway , as truck driver/songwriter T. J. Tupus, hauling lions and a rhino.
Paul 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.
Paul released his first album, Shut Out , in 1977. Paul's solo albums on the disco label Casablanca 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).
In 1979, Paul 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'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 re-recorded several years later by drag supermodel RuPaul and Martha Wash.
Paul Jabara died from AIDS-related complications after a long illness in Los Angeles, California at the age of 44. He is buried at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.
On June 14, 2014, Paul Jabara was featured in the first gay-themed tour of Green-Wood Cemetery, a National Historic Landmark.