Martin Birch, a record producer and engineer who worked on albums by rock heavyweights including Fleetwood Mac, Deep Purple, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Whitesnake, Blue Öyster Cult and Iron Maiden, died Sunday at the age of 71.
Birch's passing was announced in a Twitter post by Whitesnake frontman David Coverdale, who wrote, "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 [Whitesnake's 1984 album] Slide It In."
Birch's early work included serving as an engineer for Jeff Beck's Beck-Ola and The Faces' debut album.
Starting in 1969 and running into the 1970s, Martin worked on a series of albums by Fleetwood Mac and Deep Purple, first as an engineer and then as co-producer. Beginning in the mid-1970s, Birch served as co-producer and then producer for the first few Rainbow albums.
He began a long association with Whitesnake in 1978, producing all of the band's albums from their debut, Snakebite, through Slide It In. Birch also produced two Black Sabbath albums, 1980's Heaven and Hell and 1981's Mob Rules, both of which featured former Rainbow frontman Ronnie James Dio, who at the time had replaced Ozzy Osbourne.
Birch's most enduring collaboration as a producer was with Iron Maiden, working on a run of 10 albums that spanned from the metal legends' sophomore record, 1981's Killers, through 1992's Fear of the Dark. After producing Fear of the Dark, Martin retired from the music business.
Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler also paid tribute to Birch in a Twitter note that reads, "Really sad to hear of the passing of Martin Birch. Brilliant producer."
By Matt Friedlander
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