Early in his career, he worked in the sound department in numerous films. His first credit as an editor was in 1977 with Michael Winner’s supernatural horror The Sentinel. Based on the novel of the same name by Jeffrey Konvitz, the film starred Cristina Raines, Chris Sarandon, Ava Gardner, and Burgess Meredith.
In addition to culturally relevant films such as Alien, Blade Runner, and Chariots of Fire, Rawlings is known for an extensive list of films including Watership Down (1978), Yentl (1983), Legend (1985), F/X (1986), Not Without My Daughter (1991), Alien 3 (1992), GoldenEye (1995), The Saint (1997), Entrapment (1999) and The Phantom of the Opera (2004).
He received his first BAFTA nomination for Best Soundtrack for the films Isadora and women in Love.