The Heavy-Metal band Saxon had its roots in a band that started life
as SOB during 1976 in Barnsley, South Yorkshire ENGLAND, with founder
members guitarist Graham Oliver and bassist 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 Graham 'Oly' Oliver, Steve 'Dobby' Dawson , Paul 'Blute'
Quinn, Peter 'Biff' Byford and drummer Pete 'Frank' Gill. 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 Ian Gillan with his band,
playing all their own material.
The group caught the attention of Claude Carrere who decided to offer them a contract after hearing a band's demo tapes.
Saxon's self-titled debut album was issued on Carrere Records in May
1979; the first single taken from the album, "Stallions Of The Highway",
reached #1 in the Powerhouse chart two months later; their second single
"Back To The Wall" also reached the top in the Powerhouse chart
in January 1980, the single was released to coincide with a nationwide
tour as special guests of Motörhead.
The sophomore album, "Wheels Of Steel", was released in May 1980, it reached the top 5 of the U.K. Albums chart.
Saxon quickly recorded another album, titled "Strong Arm Of The Law" and released it in November of the same year; it contained two singles the title-track and the JFK assassination-based "Dallas 1PM".
In 1981 the band had been on the road for most of the year with little time for recording a follow-up, but in October they churned out their fourth LP, dedicated to their fans and their usual style of dress: "Denim And Leather". The disc went silver in the U.K. and charted all over Europe; two singles, the fan favorite "And The Bands Played On" and "Never Surrender", were released from the album. Founding drummer Pete Gill would shortly depart to join Motörhead and Nigel Glockler, an old friend of Saxon, replaced him.
For the British Heavy-Metal pioneers, the prime objective of 1982 was the conquering of the United States. On their second tour of 38 dates, travelling from New York down to Florida, through Texas to the West Coast, the band 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 U.S. on May 21. Saxon recorded a live album at the end of 1981 and released it on May 14, 1982. The fans were asked to name the album and the overwhelming choice of the title was "The Eagle Has Landed".
Their next studio album, "Power And The Glory", arrived a year later; in U.S. it sold 15,000 copies first week and entered The Billboard 200 at #155; the disc hit the top 20 on the British Albums chart and even generated a top 40 U.K. single in the form of its title-track.
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 the band's albums. They were subsequently picked up and signed by EMI.
Recorded in Los Angeles, "Crusader" was the first album for Saxon to be released through EMI in 1984, although this was also the last album that Carrere handled. That year the band visited the States to tour yet again, this time in conjunction with Mötley Crüe. The album went top 20 in U.K. and reached #177 on the American Billboard Top 200.
Although the band had stopped leading the New Wave of British Heavy-Metal with its aggressive biker anthems, in September 1985 Saxon churned out their seventh studio LP, "Innocence Is No Excuse", reaching #133 in U.S. but barely scraping the bottom of the British Top 40; two singles were released, the minor hits "Back On The Streets" and "Rock N' Roll Gypsy".
1986 was quite a year for Saxon with the departure of Steve Dawson, long-time bass player and key songwriter; he left, because of problems with his wife. They recorded a new album titled "Rock The Nations" where Biff Byford actually handled all the bass parts, although the credit went to new bassist Paul Johnson. The disc was another U.K. top 40 for the band and reached #149 on The Billboard 200 list. Three singles were taken from the album: "Waiting For The Night", "Rock The Nations" and "Northern Lady". All of these songs entered the lower rung of the U.K. chart; perhaps the only thing of any interest on this LP is a guest piano performance by Elton John, who was recording next door, on the aptly titled "Party 'Til You Puke".
One year later Glockler left the band and was replaced by drummer Nigel Durham; Saxon then recorded a sort of desperate album, "Destiny", which was released in 1988. However, the band's spirited cover of the Christopher Cross hit "Ride Like The Wind" did revive their fortunes temporarily, as the single became a nearly U.K. top 40. It wasn't enough though and EMI dropped the band.
Following a new extensive international tour, came the anticipated return of drummer Nigel Glockler to the Saxon fold. Paul Johnson left and was replaced by then 22-year-old Tim 'Nibbs' Carter.
Saxon signed with Charisma for their tenth studio album, "Solid Ball Of Rock". The record, released in February 1991, saw another stylistic U-turn, but missed the charts completely in Britain.
One year later they delivered a new effort, "Forever Free", again, to little or no notice.
In 1994 Saxon had been working on material for their next album. The disc, "Dogs Of War", hit the shelves in early 1995, but immediately after the recording, long-time guitarist Graham Oliver left the group; Nigel Glockler's friend and guitarist Doug Scarrat stepped in to fill Oliver's shoes.
"Unleash The Beast" followed in October 1997; adding some gothic overtones and slightly darker lyrics than its predecessors, the album also saw Saxon touring America for the first time in almost a decade. An injury prevented Glockler from continuing to play drums for the group, but he still wrote new songs with the band for the next album. German drummer Fritz Randow was chosen as his replacement.
Despite all naysayers, and whatever the price, Saxon continued to persist year after year, label after label, through think and thin. They've continued to stubbornly wave the flag of British Heavy-Metal and in September 1999 put out their fourteenth studio album, "Metalhead" and continued to tour the world in support of this opus for the next two years.
Somewhere in amongst this busy schedule for "Metalhead", Saxon found the time to record "Killing Ground", releasing it in September 2001.
Three years later, followed "Lionheart", the only album recorded with drummer Jörg Michael.
March 2007 saw SPV/Steamhammer release the latest album from Saxon, their first in ten years to feature returning longtime drummer Nigel Glockler; the 10-track set titled "The Inner Sanctum" hit the top 40 on both German and Swedish charts and landed them in the Official British Albums chart for the first time in nearly two decades; it included the single "If I Was You".