Following the news that producer Martin Birch had died at the age of 71 on Sunday, tributes have poured in from the iconic bands and artists with whom he worked. Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, and Deep Purple have all penned eulogies to honor the studio legend.
Birch was a major force in helping to shape Iron Maiden’s sound, producing every one of the band’s album from 1981’s Killers through 1992’s Fear of the Dark. In fact, after working with numerous acts in the ’70s and early ’80s, he made Maiden his primary focus for the last decade of his career, until he retired from producing in 1992 at the age of 43.
On Iron Maiden’s official website, bassist Steve Harris offered the following tribute:
“He was just absolutely brilliant. He wasn’t just a producer, he was a hands-on engineer too, so he knew how to get a great sound. He was also fantastic at motivating people; he just had a knack of getting the best out of you. He was also a really nice man, great fun with a terrific sense of humor and that made him easy to work with. We all got along with him really well and the whole band is very saddened by today’s news.”
Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson, who joined the band prior to 1982’s The Number of the Beast, also honored Birch:
“To me, Martin was a mentor who completely transformed my singing: he was a psychotherapist and in his own words a juggler who could mirror exactly what a band was. That was his special talent as a producer. He was not a puppeteer, he did not manipulate the sound of the band, he just reflected it in the best possible way. Apart from all of that he was a wonderful, warm & funny human being. Martin & I shared a passion for martial arts — he for karate and me for fencing which gave us another bond too. I’m so very sad to hear this news, it’s incredible that he has passed away at such a young age for a man who was so full of life.”
“So shocked to hear the sad news of Martin Birch’s passing,” wrote Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi. “Martin was a lovely guy and a great producer — he produced Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules for Sabbath. He will be deeply missed and my thoughts go out to his family. R.I.P.”
Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler added, “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 [his wife] Vera and family.”
Ronnie James Dio’s widow, Wendy Dio, wrote, “My thoughts & prayers go out to his wife Vera & his daughter Haley. He was a genius producer & a very dear friend of Ronnie’s. May he R.I.P.”
In the late ’60s and ’70s, Birch worked extensively with Deep Purple, engineering and/or producing several of the band’s albums. The band’s Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, and Ian Paice issued the following joint statement:
“Very sad to hear of Martin Birch’s passing. Meeting Martin at the start of the 70’s, was a pivotal moment in our lives. He was our sound engineer at a time when the experience of live shows was coming into the studio. He managed to capture the beast, particularly on Hard Loving Man. He bonded with us immediately, had the same sense of humour, and was thoroughly professional. As we noted then, when we were discovering ourselves, he was the catalyst. Our thoughts go out to Vera and all his family and friends.”
Birch also worked with Fleetwood Mac, Rainbow, Blue Öyster Cult, Whitesnake, and others. Whitesnake frontman David Coverdale was the first to report Birch’s passing, during which time he also honored the producer, calling him a “huge part of my life.”
See the aforementioned tributes below.
RIP Martin Birch (1948 – 2020)
— Iron Maiden (@IronMaiden) August 10, 2020
So shocked to hear the sad news of Martin Birch’s passing.
Martin was a lovely guy and a great producer – he produced Heaven and Hell and The Mob Rules for Sabbath. He will be deeply missed and my thoughts go out to his family. R.I.P.
— Tony Iommi (@tonyiommi) August 10, 2020
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
RIP Martin Birch. Legendary producer of countless albums by Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Deep Purple, Whitesnake, Iron Maiden & more.
“My thoughts & prayers go out to his wife Vera & his daughter Haley. He was a genius producer & a very dear friend of Ronnie’s. May he RIP”- Wendy Dio pic.twitter.com/9GTqNs36WC
— Official Dio (@OfficialRJDio) August 9, 2020
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