Saxon performing at Leeds O2 Academy, 2011
|Also known as||Son of a Bitch (1976-1978)|
|Origin||Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England|
Militia Guard Music
|Associated acts||Oliver/Dawson Saxon, Motörhead|
|Past members||Graham Oliver
Saxon is an English heavy metal band who formed in 1976, in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. As front-runners and leading lights of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, they had eight UK Top 40 albums in the 1980s including four UK Top 10 albums and two Top 5 albums. Saxon also had numerous singles in the UK Singles Chart and chart success all over Europe and Japan.They also had success in the USA. Between 1980 and 1987 Saxon established themselves as one of Europe's biggest metal acts. They still tour regularly and have sold more than 15 million albums worldwide. Saxon have also influenced many bands such as Metallica and Megadeth.
The early years: 1976-1979 
Saxon began with a lineup formed by Peter "Biff" Byford on vocals, Paul Quinn and Graham Oliver on guitars, Steve "Dobby" Dawson on bass and drummer David Ward. Early in their career, the band changed their name from Son of a Bitch to Saxon, and gained support slots on tour with more established bands such as Motörhead. In 1979, the band signed to the French record label Carrere and released their eponymous debut album.
UK success: 1980-1982 
In 1980, the follow-up album Wheels of Steel (UK no 5) spawned two hit singles: the title track, and the crowd favorite "747 (Strangers in the Night)". The album catapulted the band into stardom overnight and they began a series of relentless tours across the UK. On 16 August 1980 Saxon appeared at the first Monsters of Rock Festival where they received a great reception from the crowd. The band's set was recorded but not officially released until 2000. In 1980, Saxon made the first of many appearances on Top Of The Pops, where they performed the hit single "Wheels of Steel". Strong Arm of the Law (UK no 11), considered by many fans to be their best recording, was released later that same year and kept the bands popularity increasing. Two singles were released from this album: Strong Arm of the Law and Dallas 1PM, the latter about the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. Sold out tours of Europe and the UK followed as the album charted all over Europe.
By 1981, the band had toured most of the world and were getting less time to record new material. With the band touring the world they had gained notable success in Japan where the single Motorcycle Man had stayed in the charts for almost 6 months. Nearing the end of 1981 the band released their fourth album Denim And Leather which was dedicated to their fan base. The album is still popular today and the title track "Denim And Leather" is considered to be a metal anthem of that era. The album also featured many other fan favorites "Princess of the Night", "Never Surrender" and "The Bands Played On" were all UK Top 20 hits. Denim And Leather followed its predecessors success and charted all over Europe and went silver in the UK.
Just as the band was about to embark on a huge tour to follow the success of Denim And Leather the bands drummer at the time Pete Gill dropped out due to damaged hand. The band had to quickly replace him with Nigel Glockler formerly of Toyah, who had to learn the whole set within a day and a half just before the tour was about to begin. Glockler is still with the band today.
A relentless series of headlining tours around the UK and a sold out tour of Europe with Ozzy Osbourne as support act, highlighted Saxon's immense ability on the road and was set in stone with the live release The Eagle Has Landed (1982 UK no 5). Originally thought of as a double live album the record company decided to release it as a single live album despite protests from the band. The Eagle Has Landed is still regarded as one of the great live albums in metal. Saxon also played the 1982 Monsters Of Rock Festival again and became the first band to appear twice.
Decline of NWOBHM: 1983 
As the NWOBHM movement began to fade, 1983's Power & the Glory, their highest selling album to date, saw Saxon establish themselves as a significant European metal act along with Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. The "Power and Glory Tour" of 1983 was an arena tour that began in Europe and was a huge success. The US leg of the tour with support act Accept proved successful and Saxon found themselves on the verge of becoming a major act in the US as the album, in its first week of release, sold more than 15,000 copies in Los Angeles alone. The emerging glam metal scene in America would however put a dent in the band's conquest of the American market as the genre was becoming more and more mainstream.
Signing with EMI 1984-1988 
They signed with EMI Records in 1984 with their first release on the label being Crusader,(UK no 12). The album sold over 2 million copies and the 1984 world tour "The World Crusade" was again a success both in Europe and America. In the US they had Mötley Crüe and Krokus as support for parts of the tour as the band spent one year on the road. Though still heavy, critics detected a more commercial sound on Crusader and fans began to wonder what direction the band was taking. Although the album is regarded as having a more commercial sound, there was one song that couldn't be watered down by the producer and the record company: the title track Crusader – which today is still a fan favorite. By this time the band was considered as headliners for 1984´s Monsters of Rock at Donnington but scheduling issues and record label disputes kept the band from participating.
In 1985 the band took a more commercial direction with their new record company. Innocence Is No Excuse released in 1985, was a question mark to many fans as the raw, heavy Saxon-sound had been polished to gain more attraction to the large US market. The album has, however, gained more appreciation both from fans and critics as time has passed since its initial release. A huge sold out world tour in support of the album followed, but cracks began to appear within the band and in early 1986 bassist Steve Dawson left, and Saxon was back in the studio recording their 8th studio album Rock the Nations without a bass player. With Elton John guest playing on piano on 2 tracks, and Byford laying down the bass parts, the album charted higher than its predecessor and was considered a successful album. They hired bassist Paul Johnson to fill the spot and a European arena tour followed. In the summer of 1986 they headlined the Reading Festival and toured the U.S.
In 1987 the band took time off from the constant touring that had begun in the mid 1970s and only a minor tour of the U.S. and Canada was scheduled.
Decline of fanbase 1988-1990 
With American chart-success hard to find, the release of Destiny (1988) did not help and Saxon were later dropped by EMI. In 1988 Paul Johnson was replaced by Nibbs Carter. At the time Carter was only 22 and would later prove to bring new life into the band. 1989 saw the release of Rock n Roll Gypsies a live album recorded on an arena tour of eastern Europe in 1988, but by 1989 the gigs at the big stadiums and arenas of Europe and the US were fewer and far between and with no record deal Saxon´s future looked uncertain.
Virgin Records and European success: 1990-1993 
Saxon by this time had now been recording for 10 years and with no record deal yet, they decided to embark on UK and European tour '10 Years Of Denim And Leather' which proved to be a successful move as the band found new life. In 1990, they signed to Virgin Records and started work on their new album Solid Ball of Rock. Solid Ball of Rock was released in 1991 and was a step in the right direction and proved to be a successful album for Saxon. New bass Player Nibbs Carter co-wrote three songs. In 1992, Saxon carried on this success with the release of Forever Free. The album was produced by Biff Byford and Herwig Ursin. A UK version of the album featured an alternate cover with a "Space Marine" from the Warhammer 40,000 tabletop wargame. "Iron Wheels" was released as a single, the song was written about and dedicated to Byford's father who worked in the coal mines of Yorkshire.
Departure of Graham Oliver and continued success: 1994-1996 
During 1994 Saxon recorded the album Dogs of War. Just after the recording of the album Graham Oliver was fired from the band after trying to sell recordings of Saxon's performance at Donningtion in 1980 behind the band's back. The band replaced Oliver with Doug Scarratt, a long time friend of drummer Nigel Glockler. Saxon recorded a new video clip for Dogs of War which appeared on MTV's Headbangers Ball. 1996 saw the release of Saxon's live album, The Eagle Has Landed Pt II. Saxon toured throughout the year. They also recorded a cover of the Judas Priest song "You've Got Another Thing Comin'", for a tribute album entitled A Tribute to Judas Priest: Legends of Metal.
Heavier sound and continued success in Europe: 1997-2002 
Saxon released Unleash the Beast, which was produced by Kalle Trapp and Saxon. Saxon began their Unleash The Beast tour in May, where they played all over Europe. Unleash the Beast reached the top 100 in Sweden, Germany and Switzerland. In November they played two gigs in Brazil (São Paulo and Santos) and ended the year with a Christmas show in Belgium. In 1998, the band toured the US, as well as also playing the Brazilian Monsters Of Rock. After relentless touring Saxon's drummer Nigel Glockler took time off the band to recover from a neck and shoulder injury. He was temporally replaced by Fritz Randow.
September 1999 saw the release of Metalhead. The album received praise in Germany where Saxon had began to play the Wacken Open Air Festival, where they later became a regular fixture. Saxon also headlined the first Bloodstock Festival in the UK. In 2001 they appeared again at Wacken Open Air Festival, this time bringing a stage-sized metal eagle based on the artwork from Wheels of Steel to the show. Saxon also released the album Killing Ground in the same year. In 2002 Saxon released Heavy Metal Thunder, a compilation album featuring re-recorded tracks from the band's biggest selling albums.
Battle for band name: 2003 
In 1999, ex band members Graham Oliver and Steven Dawson registered 'Saxon' as a trade mark. They then maintained that they had exclusive rights in the name and tried to prevent Biff Byford and Saxon's promoters and merchandisers from using the name. Byford applied to the Trade Mark Registry to have the trade mark declared invalid. He applied on the basis that the registration had been obtained in bad faith (section 3(6) of the Trade Marks Act 1994) and that he was entitled to prevent use of the trade mark by bringing an action for 'passing off', that is an action to stop others misrepresenting themselves as Saxon (section 5(4) of the Act). In 2003 the High Court decided that it was Byford and the current members of the band who owned the name, and the goodwill which they had generated themselves and were therefore in a position to prevent Oliver and Dawson passing themselves off as Saxon. After this they renamed their band Oliver/Dawson Saxon.
Release of Lionheart: 2004-2006 
The line-up of Byford's Saxon has been fairly stable apart from the departure of a few drummers. Following Glockler's departure, German Fritz Randow took up the position until 2004. His replacement was former Stratovarius man Jörg Michael.
2004 saw the release of Lionheart their 16th studio album. The album title was inspired from Richard Lionheart, King of England. "Beyond the Grave" was released as a single and a video. The album received positive reviews and the title track remains a fan favorite. Glockler rejoined the band in 2005 after his neck and shoulder injury had healed. In 2006 the band released the live album, The Eagle Has Landed – part 3. The band were due to play that year's Dubai Desert Rock Festival and perform alongside Megadeth. Just before the band were due to play Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing had withdrawn the band's permission to play the festival. It was rumored that the historical lyrics in Crusader were to blame.
Collaboration with Harvey Goldsmith and re-establishment in the UK: 2007-2008 
In 2007, Saxon were the subject of an episode of Harvey Goldsmith's Get Your Act Together. As part of his programme, Goldsmith wanted to try and restore their popularity and cement their reputation once again. He drafted in two new producers to oversee the production of the new single "If I Was You" (a song about gun culture), which went to number one in the Rock Charts in over 10 countries (becoming their most successful single for over 12 years). At the end of the programme, Saxon played at the sold out Sheffield City Hall. Saxon also performed at the 2008 Download Festival.
Saxon's The Inner Sanctum album, released in Europe on 5 March 2007, and North America on 3 April, was seen by critics as their best work in years. The band then started a world tour in support of the album which saw them taking only 15 nights off from 60 dates overall.
Continued success in UK and Europe: 2009-2010 
Saxon released a new studio album, Into the Labyrinth, on 12 January 2009. The album received positive reviews and continued the success that The Inner Sanctum had created. The band also headlined the Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany. In February, it was announced that the band were cancelling the Spanish leg of their European tour with Iced Earth, due to scheduling issues. At the start of 2009 they toured the UK with Doro, and again at the end of the year they did a UK tour. In August of that year, they played at Sonisphere. In September Saxon announced the release of Heavy Metal Thunder - The Movie, a documentary on the band's history from the beginning.
Continuing their success in the UK, Saxon performed at the 2010 Download Festival, which took place at Donington Park between 11 and 13 June. The band played the Wheels of Steel album in its entirety as an anniversary of the album's release 31 years prior.
Call to Arms and Sacrifice: 2011-present 
Saxon released their nineteenth studio album, Call to Arms, on 3 June 2011. It debuted at number 6 on the UK Rock Albums chart. The band embarked on a world tour which saw them visit the US; Saxon also revisited the UK for a second leg of the tour. The band announced on their Call To Arms tour that a few fans at every venue each paying £10 could watch them soundcheck. This was donated to the Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy and Childline charities.
In December, Byford joined Metallica on stage to perform "Motorcycle Man" for the band's 30th anniversary show. Saxon were billed as special guests supporting Judas Priest at Hammersmith Apollo on 26 May 2012. Saxon also played Download Festival 2012, and were recorded playing "Wheels Of Steel" for the festival's Highlights show shown on Sky Arts. On 13 February 2012, the band announced that they were releasing a new live DVD and CD package entitled Heavy Metal Thunder - Live: Eagles Over Wacken, which compiled their 2004, 2007 and 2009 performances at the Wacken Open Air across various formats. In March, Saxon won the Metal Hammer 2012 Golden God award for 'Best UK band'.
In October 2012, the band announced that their next studio album would be titled Sacrifice and it was released on 25 February 2013. On 11 December 2012 Heavy Metal Thunder - The Movie saw an international release and was the first Blu-ray release for the band.
- Current members
- Saxon (1979)
- Wheels of Steel (1980)
- Strong Arm of the Law (1980)
- Denim and Leather (1981)
- Power & the Glory (1983)
- Crusader (1984)
- Innocence Is No Excuse (1985)
- Rock the Nations (1986)
- Destiny (1988)
- Solid Ball of Rock (1991)
- Forever Free (1992)
- Dogs of War (1995)
- Unleash the Beast (1997)
- Metalhead (1999)
- Killing Ground (2001)
- Lionheart (2004)
- The Inner Sanctum (2007)
- Into the Labyrinth (2009)
- Call to Arms (2011)
- Sacrifice (2013)
- "SAXON: Heavy Metal Thunder â€“ Live: Eagles Over Wacken' Third Video Podcast". Blabbermouth.Net. Retrieved 2013-03-22.
- "BLABBERMOUTH.NET - OLIVER/DAWSON SAXON's STEVE DAWSON: 'We Have Never Ever Tried To Be The Original Band'". Legacy.roadrunnerrecords.com. Retrieved 2013-03-22.
- "BLABBERMOUTH.NET - SAXON Name Dispute Settled". Legacy.roadrunnerrecords.com. Retrieved 2013-03-22.
- "Saxon - Lionheart (album review )". Sputnikmusic. 2005-07-30. Retrieved 2013-03-22.
- "BLABBERMOUTH.NET - SAXON Barred From Dubai Because Of 'Crusader' Song Lyrics". Legacy.roadrunnerrecords.com. Retrieved 2012-04-24.
- "Sunday Old School: Saxon - in Metal News". Metal Underground.com. Retrieved 2013-03-22.
- "Lords of Metal ezine". Lordsofmetal.nl. Retrieved 2013-03-22.
- [dead link]
- "Saxon and Iced Earth Forced To Cancel Spanish Leg Of Metal Crusade". idiomag. 2009-02-17. Retrieved 2009-02-19.
- "Saxon, HIM, Coheed & Cambria added to Download 2010 line-up". NME. 23 March 2010. Archived from the original on 20 February 2012. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
- "SAXON Announce Official Call To Arms Release Dates". Bravewords.com. Retrieved 2011-05-21.
- "Classic Rock » Blog Archive » See Saxon Soundcheck For Charity". Classicrockmagazine.com. 2011-03-30. Retrieved 2012-04-24.
- "Announce 'Sacrifice Tour' in Spring". Saxon747.com (Official band website). Retrieved 30 October 2012.
- "Saxon homepage". Retrieved 2009-01-22.[dead link]
- Marsicano, Dan (2008-09-24). "Saxon Announces Details On New Album". 411mania.com. Retrieved 2008-10-14.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Saxon (band)|