Graham Oliver

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Graham Oliver
Graham Oliver – Headbangers Open Air 2014 01.jpg
Background information
Birth nameGraham Oliver
Born (1952-07-06) 6 July 1952 (age 67)
Mexborough, South Yorkshire, England
GenresHeavy metal, hard rock
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
InstrumentsGuitar, bass
Years active1976–present
LabelsAngel Air
Associated acts

Graham Oliver (born 6 July 1952) is an English guitarist who was born in Mexborough, South Yorkshire.[1] He was a founder member and main songwriter in the heavy metal band Saxon from 1976 to 1995.[2]


Oliver was a budding guitarist while working in a factory in the mid-1970s, but gave up after losing the tip of his index finger in an accident with a door, and sold his prized 1962/63 Fender Stratocaster (he would attempt to track down the guitar 40 years later).[3] He was, however, encouraged by future bandmate Paul Quinn to learn to play again.[3]

Oliver was originally a member of the band Son of a Bitch, formed in 1975, along with future Saxon bassist Steve Dawson, Steve Firth on vocals and drummers David Bradley, John Hart, Cowley and John Walker.[4][5] The band merged with another local band (Coast) to become Saxon, with whom Oliver played from 1976 to 1995, acting as the band's main songwriter as well as guitarist during a period in which the band had five top 20 albums in the UK.[6][7][8][9]

After leaving Saxon in 1995, he initially reformed his old band Son of a Bitch with former Saxon bassist Steve Dawson and drummer Pete Gill.[9][10][11] Son of a Bitch released the album Victim You with Thunderhead singer Ted Bullet.[11][9][12] Bullet and Gill left the band after the release of the album. They were replaced by the vocalist John Ward, and another former member of Saxon, Nigel Durham on drums.

In 1999, Oliver and Dawson trademarked the name 'Saxon', claiming they had exclusive rights to it, and attempted to stop Saxon singer Biff Byford from using the name.[13] The trademark claim was overturned after it was ruled to be in bad faith, setting a legal precedent for ownership of a band name.[13] Oliver and Dawson changed the name of the band to Oliver/Dawson Saxon, and undertook a British tour with Ronnie James Dio. Graham also duetted with Doug Aldrich on "Rainbow in the Dark" on the last gig at Plymouth.

Oliver has also released the solo album End of an Era in 2001.[14] Five of the tracks were written and performed by the rock indie band Bullrush, with whom Graham Oliver's son Paul played drums, along Steve Tudberry and Scott Howitt. Also appearing on the album were Pete Gill, Steve Dawson, Kev Moore, Paul Johnson, Phil Hendriks, Richard Spencer and Chris Archer.[14]

Since 2002, Oliver has played with former Marc Bolan session musician Paul Fenton, touring under the banner "Mickey Finn's T-Rex" and formerly "T. Rex (A Celebration of Marc and Mickey)".[6][5] This opportunity materialised after Oliver played "Get It On" with Rolan Bolan at a show in Bradford.[15]

Oliver suffered a stroke in January 2010, leaving him without feeling in one arm for several weeks.[16]

In 2011, Oliver joined pupils at Mexborough School in their production of the Ben Elton musical We Will Rock You.[17]

In 2012 guitar manufacturer "Vintage" collaborated with Graham to produce two signature guitars based on his famous Gibson SG and Flying-V guitars. The 'SG' model Vintage VS6GO and the 'V' model Vintage V60GO.[18]

Oliver and Steve Dawson wrote the book Saxon Drugs and Rock and Roll - The Real Spinal Tap, published by Tomahawk Press in 2012, with a foreword by Harry Shearer (who drew inspiration for Spinal Tap from his time on tour with the band in 1982).[3][7][19][20]

As of 2017, Oliver was still playing in Oliver/Dawson Saxon.[21][22] He is also an authority on Yorkshire ceramics.[23][24]



Studio albums

Live albums

Son of a Bitch[edit]

  • (1996) Victim You

Oliver/Dawson Saxon[edit]


  • (2001) End of an Era

Collaborations/Guest Appearances[edit]

Graham has made a handful of guest appearances with Barnsley comedy band The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican


  1. ^ "Graham Oliver Twitter Profile", Retrieved 17 October 2017
  2. ^ Barton, Geoff (16 January 2013). "Saxon: 'Metal fans are the most loyal in the world' – a classic feature from the vaults". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
  3. ^ a b c Johnson, Peter (2015) "Rock star seeks reunion with man who bought his Stratocaster", Shetland Times, 2 July 2015. Retrieved 17 October 2017
  4. ^ Geesin, Joe (2015) "And the Band Played On", Record Collector, Issue 437, February 2015
  5. ^ a b "Drumming ‘hero’ to celebrate bandmate Bolan’s life with gig", Dewsbury Reporter, 24 February 2017. Retrieved 17 October 2017
  6. ^ a b "Metal guru Graham still loves to get it on", North-West Evening Mail. Retrieved 17 October 2017
  7. ^ a b "Rock ‘n’ Roll excess: Exploring the unusual link between Mexborough band Saxon and Spinal Tap", South Yorkshire Times, 19 January 2016. Retrieved 17 October 2017
  8. ^ Strong, Martin C. (2001) The Great Metal Discography 2nd edn., Mojo Books, ISBN 1-84195-185-4, pp. 476-7
  9. ^ a b c Rivadavia, Eduardo "Son of a Bitch Biography", Allmusic. Retrieved 17 October 2017
  10. ^ Buckley, Jonathan (2003) "Saxon", in The Rough Guide to Rock, Rough Guides, ISBN 978-1843531050, pp. 906-907
  11. ^ a b "OLIVER/DAWSON SAXON's STEVE DAWSON: 'We Have Never Ever Tried To Be The Original Band'",, 25 September 2007. Retrieved 17 October 2017
  12. ^ Rivadavia, Eduardo "Victim You Review", Allmusic. Retrieved 17 October 2017
  13. ^ a b Smartt, Ursula (2017) Media & Entertainment Law, Routledge, ISBN 978-1138961883, p. 423
  14. ^ a b Heibutzki, Ralph "End of an Era Review", Allmusic. Retrieved 17 October 2017
  15. ^ "T Rex act are ready to get it on at Manor Ballroom", East Anglian Daily Times, 19 November 2010. Retrieved 17 October 2017
  16. ^ "Wheels of steel! Ex-Saxon star beats a stroke", South Yorkshire Times, 8 April 2010. Retrieved 17 October 2017
  17. ^ "Rock star Graham Oliver plays guitar in sellout concert alongside school pupils", Sheffield Star, 1 April 2011. Retrieved 17 October 2017
  18. ^ "Vintage Guitars".
  19. ^ Oliver, Graham & Dawson, Steve (2012) Saxon Drugs & Rock 'n' Roll: The Real Spinal Tap, Tomahawk Press, ISBN 978-0955767050
  20. ^ "The Real Spinal Tap". Archived from the original on 12 March 2009.
  21. ^ "New Music Festival Set To Rock Thorne", Thorne Times, 1 July 2017. Retrieved 17 October 2017
  22. ^ "Ready to rock at Haven and Hell", Times & Star, 23 March 2017. Retrieved 17 October 2017
  23. ^ "Graham Oliver Archived 19 May 2016 at the Wayback Machine", Mexborough and District Heritage Society. Retrieved 17 October 2017
  24. ^ Booth, Nigel (2005) "From heavy metal to china", Pontefract & Castleford Express, 20 October 2005. Retrieved 17 October 2017
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^

External links[edit]