Paul A. Rothchild

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Paul A. Rothchild
Rothchild with Conrad Reeder in 1994
Rothchild with Conrad Reeder in 1994
Background information
Birth namePaul Allen Rothchild
Born(1935-04-18)April 18, 1935
Brooklyn, New York, United States
DiedMarch 30, 1995(1995-03-30) (aged 59)
Hollywood, California, United States
Years activecirca 1960–1995

Paul Allen Rothchild (April 18, 1935 – March 30, 1995)[1] was a prominent American record producer of the 1960s and 1970s, widely known for his historic work with the Doors, producing Janis Joplin's final album Pearl and mid-60s production of The Paul Butterfield Blues Band's self-titled first album and the influential follow-up East-West.

Life and career[edit]

Early years[edit]

Born in Brooklyn, Rothchild grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey[2] and graduated from Teaneck High School in 1953. His was a musical family; his mother was an opera singer, and Rothchild studied classical music conducting.

Rothchild began his career on the Boston folk scene, recording and releasing recordings (sometimes on his own label, Mount Auburn Records), by local folk artists, including the Charles River Valley Boys.[3] He became a house producer for Jac Holzman's Elektra Records label in 1964;[1] he worked extensively with noted recording engineers Bruce Botnick, John Haeny, Fritz Richmond, and William Gazecki.

In late 1964, Rothchild discovered Paul Butterfield and his band.[1] A first attempt at recording them was shelved (though later released in the 1990s) but a later effort resulted in the band's self-titled debut release, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band.[4] Rothchild also produced the band's second album, East-West, one of the most influential albums of the 1960s and the first example of what became acid rock. The early Butterfield Blues Band members were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.[5]


By the mid-1960s, Rothchild was established in the Los Angeles music scene, and his house on Lookout Mountain in Laurel Canyon was inhabited by many of the future musical superstars of the 1960s and 1970s. He produced the original song demo of Crosby, Stills, & Nash that landed the group a recording contract (it was actually Crosby, Stills and John Sebastian on the recording, with Sebastian later replaced by Graham Nash). Rothchild originated the concept "LEDO" (Leadered / Equalized / Dolby / Original). This format insured the final tape would represent Rothchild's sonic vision for future generations.

Rothchild is perhaps most well known by being the producer of the first five albums by the Doors.[6] He did not produce their last LP with Jim Morrison, L.A. Woman, as Rothchild withdrew from the production after disagreeing with the group over the band's musical direction.[1] He also produced albums and singles for John Sebastian, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Tom Paxton, Fred Neil, Tom Rush, the Lovin' Spoonful, Tim Buckley, Love, Clear Light, Rhinoceros and Janis Joplin, including her final LP Pearl and her only no. 1 single (written by her then-lover Kris Kristofferson) "Me and Bobby McGee".[1]

In the 1970s, he produced the first two albums for the Tampa band Outlaws, for Arista Records, as well as producing Bonnie Raitt, Elliott Murphy and the soundtrack album for the Bette Midler film The Rose, which was loosely based on the life of Janis Joplin. He also produced the soundtrack to Oliver Stone's film The Doors, about the group and appeared in a small role in the film.[6] In the latter film, he was played by Canadian character actor Michael Wincott.


In 1990, Rothchild was diagnosed with lung cancer.[1] Although he was planning a huge 60th birthday party, he succumbed to the disease on March 30, 1995 at the age of 59, just 19 days before the birthday.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Sixties Music (First ed.). Virgin Books. p. 385. ISBN 0-7535-0149-X.
  2. ^ Weidman, Rich (2011). The Doors FAQ: All That's Left to Know About the Kings of Acid Rock. Backbeat Books. p. 32. ISBN 9781617131103. Retrieved May 28, 2014. Often referred to as the 'fifth Door,' Paul A. Rothchild was born on April 18, 1935, in Brooklyn, New York, grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey, and began his career as a producer on the Boston folk scene.
  3. ^ Rosenberg, Neil V. (2005). Bluegrass: A History. University of Illinois Press. pp. 189–190. ISBN 9780252072451. Retrieved January 15, 2011.
  4. ^ "Paul Rothchild, Biography, AllMusic, Accessed February 19, 2012.
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ a b c "Paul Rothchild, Record Producer, 59", The New York Times, April 3, 1995. Accessed May 5, 2008.