The Work of Paul Rothchild

Paul Rothchild and Jim Morrison
Elektra Records chief engineer John Haeny, Paul Rothchild, and Jim Morrison, circa "Waiting for the Sun". In the background: Doors engineer Bruce Botnick.

Paul Rothchild died on March 30th, 1995 at age 59. Last year I wrote a pretty straightforward biography of Rothchild. This year, instead of repeating the statistics of his life (April 18, 1935 – March 30, 1995), or the biographical details, I thought it would be a nice tribute to remember the breadth of Paul’s work.

The Doors Love

He is mostly remembered by Doors fans and rock fans alike as the producer of The Doors. But Paul Rothchild was associated with many other groups known and not as well known. A producer for Jac Holzman’s Elektra Records almost from the start, he worked on everything from folk albums to rock ‘n’ roll. He produced either albums or singles for groups such as The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, The Lovin’ Spoonful, Neil Young, Bonnie Raitt, Tim Buckley, and Love.

The Butterfield Blues Band Tim Buckley

A band that Rothchild was closely aligned with was Clear Light, which he produced immediately after The Doors’ first album. Clear Light was notable because it had two drummers. One of those drummers, Dallas Taylor, would join The Doors onstage at the Felt Forum in January of 1970. Doug Lubahn was also a member of Clear Light and at one point he was offered the opportunity to join The Doors as the bass player (see the Doors Examiner article “Ray, Jim, Robby, John, and Doug?”). Lubahn turned this down to be in Clear Light.

Clear Light

Another band Rothchild was deeply involved with was Rhinoceros. Rhinoceros was an idea for a “supergroup” that Paul would build from scratch, his idea being to audition L.A. musicians and pick the very best for the group. Jac Holzman said “Paul believed supergroups were a big deal.” Rhinoceros produced one self-titled album which produced “Apricot Brandy” that was licensed for a Bob Hope special. Holzman thought Rhinoceros was “contrived” and a “paint by the numbers” group.


After The Doors, Paul Rothchild is probably most famous for producing Janis Joplin’s “Pearl” album, which brought Joplin her only number 1 hit single with “Me and Bobby McGee,” posthumously. Rothchild also produced the soundtrack for the movie “The Rose” which was based loosely on Joplin’s life. Paul Rothchild will be remembered for the body of work he produced and the artists for whom he helped bring out the best in their recordings.

Janis Joplin: Pearl Bette Midler: The Rose

Originally published March 30, 2011.

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2 Comments on "The Work of Paul Rothchild"

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I had that Rhinoceros album but didn’t know about Rothchild’s involvement until now. I barely remember the songs on that record; guess it didn’t stand the test of time for me!