Martin Birch, who delivered nine sequential Iron Maiden collections – just as records from Deep Purple, Rainbow and Black Sabbath – has passed on at 71 years old.
The news was affirmed by David Coverdale; Birch created the initial six Whitesnake albums. “It is with a very heavy heart I’ve just had verified my very dear friend and producer Martin Birch has passed away,” Coverdale tweeted. “Martin was a huge part of my life … helping me from the first time we met through until Slide It In. .. My thoughts and prayers to his family, friends and fans.”
Birch made a propensity for working with groups for significant stretches of time. He delivered each Iron Maiden collection from 1981’s Killers to 1992’s Fear of the Dark, and built or created about twelve Deep Purple collections. He additionally helmed Black Sabbath’s Ronnie James Dio-fronted Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules, built five early Fleetwood Mac collections and delivered Rainbow’s initial three records.
In a 1983 meeting with Best magazine, Birch disclosed why he liked to work with similar craftsmen again and again. “I certainly think that you can only make the most out of a band if you know it really well, very much in depth,” he said. “Occasional producers who make an album with a band, then move on to another, are bound to do something pretty shallow. The results are always brilliant, excellent at the time, but you realize later that the true colors of the band don’t come out and the album loses quickly its prestige.”
In a 2016 meeting with Classic Rock, he depicted the fervor he felt dealing with his second task with Iron Maiden, 1982’s The Number of the Beast. It was the gathering’s first collection with Bruce Dickinson on vocals.
“When Bruce joined, it opened up the possibilities for the new album tremendously,” Birch recalled. “I simply didn’t think Paul [Di’Anno] was capable of handling vocals on some of the quite complicated directions I knew [bassist and songwriter] Steve [Harris] wanted to explore. I remember saying to them when it was finished, ‘This is gonna be a big, big album. This is gonna transform your career.’ It just had all the magical ingredients: feel, ideas, energy, execution. And I think the response I got was, ‘Oh, really?'”
Birch was correct. He delivered a string of Iron Maiden collections, and afterward resigned from the business after Fear of the Dark.
The maker was modest about his specialized aptitudes, chalking up quite a bit of his prosperity to a capacity to interface and speak with craftsmen. “I don’t consider myself a super-technician, what I do is to me pretty simple, but the fact that I’m used to the bands I have worked with helps me to know instantly what they want, or even what they can achieve, even if they don’t realize it clearly themselves,” he told Best. “Or maybe bands trust me over long periods of time just because they find me a particularly likable character!”