It’s not an underestimation to say that without Martin Birch – who passed away on August 9th, aged 71 – hard rock and heavy metal would sound different to what we’re used to. To illustrate this point, one has to name only three albums, three key records that he produced: RAINBOW’s “Rising” from 1976, BLACK SABBATH’s “Heaven And Hell” from 1980 and IRON MAIDEN’s “The Number Of The Beast” from 1982 – but the Englishman had worked his magic, as an engineer, on all the ’70s LPs by DEEP PURPLE and he stayed with MAIDEN from the start of their career to “Fear Of The Dark” after which the veteran retired.
The Englishman helped David Coverdale mastermind the sonic picture of every WHITESNAKE album from the beginning until the band Americanized their approach, yet his first credits appeared on FLEETWOOD MAC’s “Then Played On” in 1969 – and it’s tragic that he died so soon after Peter Green – and Jeff Beck’s “Beck-Ola” before he moved on to the likes of WISHBONE ASH, working on “Argus” among others, and there are many more sleeves that feature Birch’s name. What’s important, it wasn’t only his aural perspective and expertise that Martin brought to the creative table; it was his wild character (and karate chops), so working with him, as artists can confirm, was never boring. Still, the soundman was humble enough to vanish from public eye from the ’90s on – and the scarcity of his photos suggests that trait had always been there.
Martin Birch must have had a lot of stories to tell which will now remain untold. Rest in peace.