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Martin Birch, Iron Maiden and Whitesnake Producer, Dies at 71

Variety — Shirley Halperin

Martin Birch, the British music producer whose credits include albums by Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, Whitesnake and Black Sabbath, has died. He was 71.

News of his death was revealed by Whitesnake frontman David Coverdale on Twitter on Aug. 9. The cause of death is as yet unknown.

The Surrey-born Birch began his career in the late 1960s as an engineer, working on recordings for Jeff Beck, Fleetwood Mac (“Kiln House” “Bare Trees”), Deep Purple (“In Rock” “Machine Head”) and Rainbow (“Rising” “Long Live Rock ’n Roll”). A craftsman of early recording technology, he ably captured the energy of live bands and loud amplification, helping create clear, focused recordings that brought a new power to the heavy rock of the 1970s as the psych-rock edges of the 1960s faded away.

Known for a midrange-forward approach that favored guitars, Birch, whose nickname was Headmaster, would become perhaps best known for his 11-year stint with Iron Maiden, serving as the producer and engineer of canonical records like “Killers,’ “Number of The Beast,” “Piece Of Mind” and “Somewhere In Time.” He followed up the success of those releases with work on Whitesnake’s 1982 album “Saints & Sinners,” which included the original version of future single “Here I Go Again.” The song would be rerecorded in 1987 and hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Birch’s long-term collaborations extended beyond Maiden and Whitesnake to work with other metal acts like Rainbow and Deep Purple, the latter which led to Birch helming two Black Sabbath albums, “Heaven and Hell” and “Mob Rules.”

Although he retired in 1992, Birch was a key player in ushering in a second wave of British Metal in the 1970s and into the 80s when the genre dominated globally.

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