|Somewhere around South Yorkshire, UK there was a band that started life as SOB [Son Of A Bitch] during 1976 with founder members Graham Oliver and Steve Dawson. This band joined forces with another local band, Coast, featuring Biff Byford on vocals and Paul Quinn on guitar. The two bands then finalised with a line-up comprising of the then 26 year old Graham 'Oly' Oliver, Steve 'Dobby' Dawson (27), Paul 'Blute' Quinn (26), Pete 'Frank' Gill (27) and Peter 'Biff' Byford (27). The name of the band was Son Of A Bitch. That name was dropped a few years later and the band re-christened themselves SAXON. They were at this time playing the usual rock clubs and concert gigs supporting The Ian Gillan Band and Heavy Metal Kids, amongst others, playing all their own material. Demo tapes were recorded at Tapestry Studios, with producer John Verity (Ex. Argent singer/guitarist). They hawked these round the usual record companies only to be ignored as the New-wave was at its height at this time. After a few months the band finally gained a favourable reaction from EMI man Peter Hinton. He had come up to Barnsley to see the band play at the town's Civic Hall. He was very impressed and recommended SAXON to Claude Carrere as candidates for his new label on the British scene, Carrere Records. Claude decided to offer them a contract, after hearing the band's demo tapes.
The album SAXON (CAL 110) was recorded, again with producer John Verity, and was ready for world distribution in May 1979. The first single taken from the album was Big Teaser c/w Stallions of the Highway (CAR 118). Although Stallions was the band's first single in the nation's heavy metal charts, it eventually reached number one in the Powerhouse chart on July 24th 1979. Their second single Backs To The Wall c/w Militia Guard (CAR129) also reached the top in the Powerhouse charts in January 1980. The single was released to coincide with a nationwide tour as special guests of MOTORHEAD. The tour, which began on November 10th at the Bracknell Sports Centre, took the band to all the major venues around the nation, including three nights at London's Hammersmith Odeon. The tour ended on December 16th at the specially arranged Christmas concert there. The band went into the studios again and recorded their second album Wheels Of Steel.
Wheels Of Steel was released in May 1980. The album was produced by Pete Hinton and SAXON. It reached the top five of the UK album charts. The band appeared on 'Top Of The Pops' with their two hit singles Wheels Of Steel and 747 (Strangers In The Night).
SAXON quickly recorded another album, titled Strong Arm Of The Law and released it in November of the same year. The album was again produced by Pete Hinton and SAXON. Two singles were released, Strong Arm Of The Law and Dallas 1PM.
In 1981 the band had been on the road for most of the year with little time for recording a follow-up. In the past few months they had toured almost every country in the World. They were particularly successful in Japan, where the single Motorcycle Man maintained a presence in the charts for a five month period. October 1981 saw the release of their fourth album, dedicated to their fans and their usual style of dress, Denim And Leather. The album was backed up by a 46-date UK and European tour.Denim And Leather went silver in the UK and charted all over Europe. Two singles, And The Bands Played On and Never Surrender, were released from the album. Two days before the tour, drummer Pete Gill damaged a hand and Nigel Glockler, an old friend of SAXON, replaced him. He had to learn the whole set in a day and a half, and fulfilled all expectations.
The prime objective of 1982 was the conquering of the USA. On their second tour of 38 dates, travelling from New York down to Florida, through Texas to the West Coast, SAXON finished with four sell-out shows at the 'Whiskey' in Los Angeles, and three in San Francisco. The success of this tour prompted the rush release of Strong Arm Of The Law in the USA on May 21st, and the booking of a further tour in June/July. SAXON recorded a live album at the end of 1981, and released it on May 14th, 1982. The fans were asked to name the album, and the overwhelming choice of the title was The Eagle Has Landed. The Eagle flew around the world to return for a 28-day British tour beginning on September 16th 1982. They appeared at Castle Donington's Monsters Of Rock Festival amidst touring the US. They play Dallas with Rainbow on Thursday, fly to England for Castle Donington on Saturday and then fly back to the US on Monday for a show in New York, quickly followed by an appearance in Germany for their equivalent of the Monsters Of Rock Festival! The appearance at Castle Donington gave SAXON the title of first band to have played the Monsters of Rock Festival twice, having first played there in 1980.
October/November 1982 saw SAXON back in the studio to work on their latest album with the title of Power And The Glory, produced by US producer Jeff Glixman. In Los Angeles alone it sells 15,000 copies in its first week. Three videos are released: Power And The Glory, Nightmare and the re-recorded Suzy Hold On. Touring was inevitable and was a great success. Also released was the video SAXON Live, a concert filmed in Nottingham, UK. Unfortunately, 1983 was the year that saw SAXON's departure from Carrere, the original label that signed the band. This was due to some inside discrepancies on the part of Carrere regarding the actual sales of SAXON's albums. They were subsequently picked up and signed by EMI.
Crusader was the first album for SAXON to be released through EMI in 1984, although this was also the last album that Carrere handled, produced by Kevin Beamish and recorded in Los Angeles. This was the year that the band visited the States to tour yet again, this time in conjunction with Motley Crue, SAXON headlining some nights and Motley Crue the others. Iron Maiden toured the US in the same year and SAXON were invited to be special guests of theirs. The end of 1984 and during 1985 sees SAXON tour in support of Crusader which is proving successful in the USA. SAXON also tour with supporting band Accept in Germany.
Innocence Is No Excuse, the band's eighth album is released during September, 1985. The album was recorded at the Wisseloord Studio in Holland. Two singles were released: Back On The Streets and Rock And Roll Gypsy. EMI then released SAXON Live Innocence, a live video from the recent tour and 2 promo clips for Back on the Streets and Rocking Again.
1986 was quite a year for SAXON with the departure of Steve Dawson, long-time bass player. He left, because of problems with his wife. 'She really fucked him up', as Biff said. In came unknown bassist, Paul Johnson. They recorded a new album titled Rock The Nations where Biff actually handled all the bass parts, although the credit went to Paul Johnson. Three singles (and videos) were taken from the album: Northern Lady, Waiting For The Night and Rock The Nations. Elton John played piano on Party 'till you Puke and Northern Lady. A tour of Europe was scheduled during 1986 and towards the end of the year Biff and the boys joined with Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force in the States.
1987 saw the departure of Nigel Glockler to the band GTR, a project band made up from ex-Yes band members and vocalist Max Bacon. In came drummer Nigel Durham. SAXON recorded Destiny, their last album for EMI who just did'nt want us to record a new album, Biff said. Following the tour and with the recent demise of GTR came the anticipated return of drummer Nigel Glockler to the Saxon fold. Paul Johnson left and was replaced by Tim 'Nibbs' Carter, first gigging in Budapest. He is quickly accepted by Saxon's fans and becomes a permanent member touring during the latter part of 1988, proving to be a dominant, competent songwriter and general Saxon stage maniac. By the way, at this time he's only 22!
1989, SAXON recorded a new live album Rock And Roll Gypsies. Biff and the boys consequently toured with Manowar as a double headliner in Germany. Power And The Glory, the video anthology, is released on PMI. Following the German tour SAXON retire to the studio to write for the next album. However, between writing, SAXON break to play a series of charity shows in the UK.
1990, SAXON have been together for 10 years and they schedule a UK/European tour under the banner of '10 Years Of Denim And Leather'. They recorded another live album and a video with the same title. For the rest of the year they worked on their new studio album, titled Solid Ball Of Rock. The album is released on February 4th 1991, followed by the single Requiem- We Will Remember (18th March), a track dedicated to all those Rock stars in the heaven's above. SAXON were picked up and signed by Virgin, and played all over Europe and even in America, Japan, Australia, Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil and New Zealand!
In 1992 SAXON recorded another successful album, Forever Free, at Hey You Studios, Vienna, Austria and Gems Studios, Boston, Lincolnshire, UK. The album was produced by Biff Byford and Herwig Ursin. A single, Iron Wheels, a track dedicated to Biff's father is released.
In 1994 SAXON had been working on material for their next studio album. The album, Dogs Of War, is released in early 1995, but immediately after the recording, long-time guitarist Graham Oliver left the band. In came Nigel Glockler's friend and guitarist Doug Scarrat to fill Oliver's shoes. SAXON recorded a new video-clip Dogs Of War, which appeared on MTV's Headbangers' Ball. Finally, after another thumbs year of touring SAXON recorded a few Christmas shows in Germany.
1996 saw the release of Saxon's latest live album, The Eagle Has Landed Pt II. Biff and the boys toured consequently, the whole year through. They also record the song You've Got Another Thing Comin', for the Judas Priest Tribute CD.
In 1997, EMI re-releases Wheels Of Steel and Strong Arm Of The Law as a double CD. It contains 11 bonus tracks mainly live recordings from 1981.
Saxon release a new studio album in May. The title is Unleash The Beast, which is produced by Kalle Trapp and Saxon. The album is just as cool as Dogs Of War and Wheels Of Steel, and includes a semi-acoustic ballad Absent Friends, dedicated to John 'J.J' Jones the crew boss who had died the previous year. Saxon began their Unleash The Beast tour in May, where they played in Germany, Holland, Belgium, Sweden and lots of other countries. Unleash The Beast reached the top 100 in Sweden, Germany and also Switzerland. In November they played two gigs in Brazil (Sao Paulo and Santos), ended the year with a Christmas show in Belgium.
1998, Saxon begins the year with two shows in England in February. In March and April, they are going to play in the USA again. This tour went very well, they played 26 gigs! then returning to Spain for a further three shows. After the Spanish gigs, they played on the Brazilian 'Monsters of Rock', then all over Europe and some further gigs in the USA late November. They then opened for Deep Purple in Rotterdam, Holland. The Unleash the Beast tour ended November 21st in Hardenberg, Holland.
An injury prevents Nigel continuing to play drums for Saxon, but he still writes new songs with the band for the next album. Saxon is now using a German drummer Fritz Randow, who already played with the band on the last tour in Europe. Saxon play the Arena Open Air festival in Holland, with Motorhead and Dio.
Saxon released their awesome CD Metalhead in September 1999, and continued to tour the world in support of this opus for the next 2 years, culminating in some prestigious headline shows at the first ever Bloodstock UK Metal Festival in the UK, and Wacken in August 2001 where the infamous eagle made its welcome return!
Somewhere in amongst this busy schedule for Metalhead, Saxon found the time to record KILLING GROUND, as well as some new versions of classic tracks. These albums are being released later in 2001, following which Saxon will embark on World Tour no 999!!
Source: Saxon official website [http://www.saxon747.com]