Martin Birch, the influential British producer who worked on some of the most beloved albums in the rock music canon, has passed away. He was 71.

News of Birch’s passing was confirmed by David Coverdale of Whitesnake — who Birch produced the first six studio albums for.

“It is with a very heavy heart I’ve just had verified my very dear friend & producer Martin Birch has passed away,” Coverdale wrote in a tweet. “Martin was a huge part of my life…helping me from the first time we met through until Slide It In…My thoughts & prayers to his family, friends & fans.”

In addition to his work with Whitesnake, Birch produced eight consecutive Iron Maiden recordsKillers, The Number of the Beast, Piece of Mind, Powerslave, Somewhere in Time, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, No Prayer for the Dying and Fear of the Dark. He also worked his magic on the band’s 1985 live record, Live After Death.

His contribution to the 1980s wave of British Heavy Metal can not be understated — working on albums by Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and more.

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“I certainly think that you can only make the most out of a band if you know it really well, very much in depth,” Birch revealed in an interview with Iron Maiden Bulgaria, when asked about why he frequently collaborates with the same bands.

“Occasional producers who make an album with a band, then move on to another, are bound to do something pretty shallow. The results are always brilliant, excellent at the time, but you realise later that the true colours of the band don’t come out and the album loses quickly its prestige.

“I don’t consider myself a super-technician, what I do is to me pretty simple, but the fact that I’m used to the bands I have worked with helps me to know instantly what they want, or even what they can achieve, even if they don’t realise it clearly themselves. Or maybe bands trust me over long periods of time just because they find me a particularly likeable character.”

Check out ‘The Prisoner’ by Iron Maiden: