Paul Barbarin's year of birth is often given as 1901, but his brother Louis Barbarin (born 1902) said he was quite sure that Paul was several years older than him, and Paul Barbarin simply refused to answer the year of his birth in an interview at Tulane University's Jazz Archives.
From the late 1910s on, Barbarin divided his time between Chicago, New York and New Orleans, and touring with such bands as those of Joe King Oliver, Luis Russell, Louis Armstrong, and Henry Red Allen. From the 1950s on he usually led his own band.
Barbarin was an accomplished and knowledgeable musician, a member of ASCAP, and the composer of a number of pop tunes and Dixieland standards, including Come Back Sweet Papa, Don't Forget To Mess Around (When You're Doing The Charleston), Bourbon Street Parade, and (Paul Barbarin's) Second Line.
Paul Barbarin died on February 17, 1966 while playing a New Orleans Mardi Gras parade.