Martin Birch, the influential producer who tied together many of the roots of British hard rock and heavy metal, has passed away aged 71. His technical expertise was gifted in the studio to an array of bands including, but not limited to Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Fleetwood Mac.
The sad news of Birch’s passing comes after Whitesnake frontman David Coverdale took to Twitter to acknowledge the death of his longtime friend and collaborator. The cause of death is still not yet known.
Martin Birch produced nine classic Iron Maiden albums, also working with the likes of Black Sabbath, Fleetwood Mac, and Deep Purple.
Born just south of London in Surrey in 1948, Birch initiated his career working as an engineer. He began as a producer, making his mark on seminal debut releases by the Faces, Wishbone Ash and Jeff Beck‘s Beck-Ola.
He also began an enduring relationship with Fleetwood Mac, engineering five of their albums between 1969 and 1973. Quickly making his stamp on the British hard rock scene, Birch went on to work on eleven Deep Purple albums. It was during the mid-70s that he established his niche sound which blurred hard rock with the roots of heavy metal.
Martin Birch worked with so many artists frequenting the hard rock scene from the mid-70s into the ’80s. He collaborated with Whitesnake and Blue Öyster Cult while he produced numerous Rainbow records, due in part to the relationship he’d established with Ritchie Blackmore on previous projects with Deep Purple.
This is also when he began working with Ronnie James Dio, who had teamed up with Blackmore for Rainbow. This, in turn, led to Birch hopping into the studio with Black Sabbath for two of their post-Ozzy records, during the time when Dio took over the vocal reigns.
Really sad to hear of the passing of Martin Birch. Brilliant producer. Had the pleasure of working with him on the Black Sabbath albums #HeavenandHell and #MobRules. Condolences to Vera and family. #RIPMartin pic.twitter.com/FPZajWRvpN
— Geezer Butler (@geezerbutler) August 9, 2020
But it wasn’t until the 1980s that Birch began his longest partnership of all. It was then that he began working exclusively with Iron Maiden, producing a string of nine of their classic albums that included Killers and The Number of the Beast.
Birch once described Iron Maiden as “my favourite band to work with … there is a great unity and nobody tries to stand out individually from the team”.
Birch retired from the music industry aged 42, following the production of Fear of the Dark in 1992 which became his last album collaboration with Iron Maiden.
Rest in Peace Martin.
It is with a very heavy heart I’ve just had verified my very dear friend & producer Martin Birch has passed away…Martin was a huge part of my life…helping me from the first time we met through until Slide It In…Mt thoughts & prayers to his family, friends & fans…💔💔 pic.twitter.com/J4UyDiG9zR
— David Coverdale (@davidcoverdale) August 9, 2020