Martin Birch

Martin Birch has passed away at the age of 71. Click the picture for a story (and also because it’s where I stole the image from).

You may not know who Martin Birch was, but I guarantee that if you listened to a radio at any point from 1970 onward, you have heard his work.

He was an audio engineer and a record producer. He first became well known for producing Deep Purple. Go listen to the Made in Japan album. That is probably the best sounding live album in the history of the universe and he was the engineer. He made that band sound incredible.

He was able to turn Deep Purple into an entire career. I wrote a paper on this once when I was in school. Remember those rock and roll family tree things that were popular for a while? Where it lists the names of all of the members of one band and then traces them all through every band they ever played in? Deep Purple spawned more bands than you could even believe, and every single one of them had 500 (approximate) members. Purple begat Gillan, Rainbow, Whiteshake, 100 bands that Glen Hughes played in, a couple of other things that Jon Lord and Ian Paice played for, and all of those bands had revolving door lineups and all of those people played in 100 bands each. It gets so ridiculous that eventually the Deep Purple family tree absorbs the Black Sabbath family tree. Don Airy played for Rainbow and Purple (and Whitesnake too? Maybe? Probably not) and he also played for Ozzy. Two Deep Purple members were, at different times, lead vocalists for Sabbath, and one Rainbow singer was as well (Ian Gillan, Glen Hughes, and Ronnie Dio, respectively).

This is important because Martin Birch produced pretty much all of them. All of the major ones at least. Rainbow, Whitesnake, Sabbath (during Dio’s tenure), and on and on. The guy was everywhere, and if the entire Deep Purple family tree isn’t enough famous business for you, he also produced Iron Maiden from 1982 (or was it 1981?) through 1992. Basically, all of that ground breaking music was filtered through his ears. The man is a legend and there will never be another like him.

For my money, if Made in Japan was the only record he ever worked on, he would still be a legend. Instead we have about a billion other brilliant sounding albums with his name on them.

Rest in Peace, Martin Birch.