The much-admired Woking, Surrey music producer and sound engineer MARTIN BIRCH died on 9 August 2020.
Martin “the farmer” Birch was closely associated with British rock acts such as Deep Purple, Rainbow, Fleetwood Mac, Whitesnake, Black Sabbath,, and especially Iron Maiden.
BIRCH a.k.a. “the headmaster” is considered to have been (along with Tom Allom) a pioneering Metal producer.
He produced ten Iron Maiden albums, from Killers (1981) through to Fear of the Dark (1992).
His “Piece of Mind” by Iron Maiden (1983) is often cited as the best produced metal record of all time.
He began his career as an audio engineer with Jeff Beck, Fleetwood Mac and Deep Purple, and went on to produce and engineer eleven albums for Deep Purple. In fact, he gained his first recognition for his work on The Faces 1970 album “The First Step” (producer/engineer.)
He began at the old De Lane Lea Studios in London where Deep Purple’s Fireball (1971) was recorded (he worked as an engineer on the project) and later worked at the Battery Studios in Willesden, London (aka Zomba) where he worked on Killers, Iron Maiden (1981) among many other projects.
As a musician, Birch played rhythm guitar on Adam Faith’s “I Survive” (1974) , and he provided backing vocals for Roger Glover’s “Elements” (1978) and tape techniques for Maiden’s “Somewhere In Time” in 1986. He earned writing & arrangement credits for several recordings including: Maiden’s “Live After Death” (1985) and Whitesnake’s “Don’t Break My Heart Again” (1981).
Iron Maiden’s first album to feature vocalist Bruce Dickinson “The Number of the Beast” ( recorded in 1982, at Battery Studios) is often described, by rock ‘n’ metal cognoscenti, as “Metal’s Sergeant Pepper”. During the recording, Birch was involved in a collision with a mini-bus transporting a group of nuns. According to legend, after the crash he was presented with a repair bill for £666!
Since his semi-retirement in 1992, and after producing Maiden’s Fear of the Dark, Birch had been mainly working on preparing box sets and re-releases.
1969 – Beck-Ola, Jeff Beck (engineer)
1970 – In Rock, Deep Purple (engineer)
1972 – Argus, Wishbone Ash (engineer)
1973 – Penguin, Fleetwood Mac (producer, engineer, mixing)
1975 – Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow (co-producer, engineer, mixing)
1980 – Heaven and Hell, Black Sabbath (producer, engineer)
1982 – Saints & Sinners, Whitesnake (producer, engineer, mixing)
1982 – Assault Attack, Michael Schenker Group (producer, engineer)
1983 – Piece of Mind, Iron Maiden (producer)
1984 – Powerslave, Iron Maiden (producer, engineer, mixing)
1992 – Fear of the Dark, Iron Maiden (producer, engineer, mixing)