THE family of a popular Stourbridge musician and sound engineer have told of their sadness and shock at his unexpected death at the age of just 46.

Martin Walker was found dead at his flat in Caslon Crescent, Norton, on March 18 after relatives, unable to get hold of him, raised the alarm.

Well-known for his work as a sound engineer at the old Icehouse recording studios and as a member of Blondie tribute act Once More into the Bleach, Martin had seen his health decline due to a worsening spinal injury which had sustained in a car crash back in his early 20s.

He had resorted to using a mobility scooter and his heartbroken mum Vicky Walker said he had been unable to get out much "and because of Covid it made it much worse".

She said he had rehomed his beloved dog Poppy as it had been difficult to look after her amid the Covid crisis and he had become "really depressed" during the pandemic and had not been eating.

But she told the News his sudden death from liver failure had come as a total shock to her and husband Gordon, Martin's dad, who has been battling cancer.

In his younger years Martin had been a talented piano and keyboard player, she said.

After completing a BTEC course in performing arts, sound engineering and music at Kidderminster College - he began working at Icehouse studios which mum Vicky had taken over.

She said: "He worked at the studio recording local bands and remixing work with such artists as Jimmy Pursey, from Sham 69, and Mark Stanway on Phil Lynott's Grand Slam album the Studio Sessions for which he gets a mention."

Before joining Once More into the Bleach as a keyboard player, he played with several other local bands - having started out with Shadowland when he was 16.

When his mum and dad retired to Spain he took over the running of Icehouse studios, which was a popular recording and rehearsal venue for local bands including famous names such as Jonn Penney and his post-Ned's Atomic Dustbin band Groundswell.

But in 2005 the studios in Enville Street were demolished to make way for a new retirement complex.

Martin later became a PAT tester but his deteriorating spinal condition meant he ultimately had to give up working.

Vicky said he was at his happiest playing in bands, giving guitar and piano lessons and doing his sound engineering and recording.

She said: "That's what he loved doing. He just loved music. He wanted to play piano when he was six and he learned so quickly.

"He was a fantastic musician."

Martin is survived by three children - Niamh, aged 15, Brianne, aged eight, and Hayden, aged four, and parents Vicky and Gordon.

A funeral service, for family only due to Covid restrictions, will be held at Stourbridge Crematorium later this month.

Donations can be made via H Porter and Sons to the RSPCA in honour of Martin's love of animals.