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Saga (band)

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Saga in 2017
Saga in 2017
Background information
OriginOakville, Ontario, Canada
Years active1977–present
LabelsPortrait, Warner Bros., Atlantic
MembersMichael Sadler
Ian Crichton
Jim Gilmour
Mike Thorne
Dusty Chesterfield
Past membersCurt Cress
Jim Crichton
Brian Doerner
Rob Moratti
Steve Negus
Christian Simpson
Peter Rochon
Gregg Chadd
Glen Sobel

Saga is a Canadian rock band from Oakville, Ontario. Bassist and keyboardist Jim Crichton and Welsh-born vocalist and keyboardist Michael Sadler are the principal songwriters.

Saga has had numerous line-up changes over the years. Ian and Jim Crichton were the only two original members who appeared on every album. Sadler appeared on every release, apart from the 2009 album The Human Condition. Keyboardist Jim Gilmour was with the band from 1979, making his debut on the album Silent Knight. Drummer Steve Negus performed with Saga until 1986. The lineup was supplemented by many session musicians and live performers from the late 1980s to the late 2000s.

Saga has been awarded gold and platinum albums worldwide and have sold more than eight million albums.


Originally known as Pockets, Saga formed in 1977 from the nucleus of Canadian rock band Fludd. In April 1978, they released their self-titled debut album Saga.[1] A modest success in Canada, it would eventually sell over 30,000 copies in Germany as an import.

Their 1979 follow-up album Images at Twilight[1] gave them their first charting single in Canada, with the song "It's Time" peaking at No. 84 in the Canadian Charts. From the album, the songs "See Them Smile" and "Slow Motion" became strong radio favourites elsewhere. Saga's third album, Silent Knight, was released in 1980,[1] and included the singles "Don't Be Late" and "Careful Where You Step," which continued and furthered the band's international success.

In 1981, the band's fourth album Worlds Apart was released.[1] The lead single, "On the Loose", finally broke them into the Top 40, peaking at No. 22 on the Canadian Charts in January 1982, and in December 1982, proved to be their breakthrough in America where it peaked at No. 26 on the Billboard chart in February 1983. A second single, "Wind Him Up", also fared well, with the help of its music video receiving heavy rotation on MTV, and became their next charting single in America, peaking at No. 64 on Billboard in May 1983. Eventually, Worlds Apart was certified Gold in the US in 1983. The band opened for Jethro Tull on their North American tour in 1982.

Following on the success of Worlds Apart, the band won the 1982 Juno Award for "Most Promising Group of the Year."

A fifth album Heads or Tales was released in late 1983[1] and became another success. The lead single, "The Flyer", fared well in Canada and also became their final U.S. charting single, peaking at No. 79 on Billboard in December 1983. The follow-up single entitled "Scratching the Surface" became popular in Canada, peaking at No. 45 in April 1984.

Their sixth album, Behaviour, was released in 1985[1] and included the singles, "Listen to Your Heart" and "What Do I Know?" (charted No. 57 in Canada).

Separation and reunion[edit]

In 1986 Steve Negus and Jim Gilmour left the band over management concerns, soon deciding to form a new band project under the name Gilmour-Negus Project (GNP).[1] In 1988, they released their one and only album, Safety Zone (featuring Robert Bevan on lead vocals). Meanwhile, Saga continued to record and tour, with Michael Sadler and the Crichton brothers augmented by session musicians.

Their 1987 release Wildest Dreams enjoyed better distribution under new label, Atlantic Records,[1] but it failed to match expectations in America. The lead single "Only Time Will Tell" became a popular chart favourite in Canada (No. 93), with a memorable video rotated on MTV for a brief period. However, the remainder of the album suffered from over-reliance on technology, with armies of sequencers and drum machines replacing much of the band's earlier trademark sound with Gilmour and Negus.

For 1989's The Beginner's Guide to Throwing Shapes, Saga refocused on their earlier European popularity which marked a return to their earlier progressive style with a few sci-fi orientated pop elements to it.[1] In 1992, Steve Negus and Jim Gilmour returned to Saga. The band's next album, The Security of Illusion, released in 1993, was well received by Saga fans in Canada and Europe. The 1994 followup, Steel Umbrellas, was considered uneven when compared to their previous release, perhaps due to the material originally being produced for the short-lived television series Cobra. However, despite lackluster album sales, Saga's 1993 and 1994 tours helped maintain some of the band's early popularity; their reputation as live performers was not lost among the band's long time fans.


In 1995 Jim Crichton composed and produced the majority of Saga's next album, the conceptual Generation 13. Inspired by a popular political treatise by the same name, the story follows main character Jeremy's troubled search for his real father. The concept is somewhat reminiscent of the storyline in The Who's Quadrophenia. The album's heavier compositions have a sound similar to fellow Canadians, progressive rock band Rush, and even early Kansas.

Saga's next release, Pleasure and the Pain was released on the eve of their 20th anniversary tour in 1997. The album failed to maintain the interest created by the previous release. On the same anniversary tour, the album Phase 1 was released. Phase 1 was an album containing demo songs from the 1979 album Images at Twilight — some of them were songs found not good enough for the album, some of them were different versions of songs released on Images. The album quickly sold out and a second issue was printed. The album was hard to get and it soon became a most wanted item for Saga collectors and fans.

Their 1998 tour was captured on the next album, Detours, a double-live album released worldwide. Saga's next three albums, 1999's Full Circle, 2001's House of Cards, and 2003's Marathon have all been popular with the band's longtime and loyal fanbase. House of Cards, in particular enjoyed renewed interest. Its acoustic-flavoured single, "Money Talks", received Top 5 video airplay in Canada. All three albums included new "chapters", representing a return to the progressive rock of the band's early days. Saga released a new studio album, Network, in the fall of 2004. Their next album, Trust, was released in 2006, featuring Brian Doerner as their new drummer. Doerner made his debut on a live Canadian television broadcast in late 2005.

Even though Jim Crichton and Michael Sadler both live in Los Angeles, they have not committed Saga to any full-length American tours since 1986. However, in late 2005, Michael Sadler announced a limited tour on the West Coast to promote his solo album, Clear. The trek featured Ian Crichton as touring guitarist. Saga also played one show in New York City during their summer 2006 tour in support of Trust.

The Chapters[edit]

The Chapters is the name given to a series of songs that the band revealed over a 28-year period in a mixed-up order, creating a conceptual puzzle. Each song in the sequence was subtitled "Chapter One", "Chapter Two", etc. In its final form, The Chapters tells a cohesive science fiction story concerning the preservation of Albert Einstein's brain, aliens who are concerned with humanity's self-destruction, and the resurrection of the dead through technology.

The first eight Chapters were issued, out of order, across the band's first four albums, issued between 1978 and 1981. After a long layoff, Chapters 9 through 16 were issued, again out of order, across three album releases between 1999 and 2003. Songs from the cycle have been performed in concert throughout their career. The Chapters were finally released all together in a 2 CD live recording called The Chapters Live in 2005.

Legacy and recent activity[edit]

Despite the band's fluctuating musical styles and limited commercial success in the United States, their fans have remained extremely loyal over the decades. Their musical style was defined by Ian Crichton's staccato guitar riffs, often in harmony with a synthesizer, and complex keyboard arrangements, frequently featuring three players.

The band has been constantly successful in Germany since its inception. It is also very popular in Puerto Rico; Saga has visited the island twelve times. Saga's second concert in Puerto Rico (1981) caused riots from fans trying to crash into a sold-out concert that sold over 10,000 tickets. Most of the inner cover photographs from the original vinyl release of In Transit (1982) were taken in Puerto Rico, including a live photograph from the 1981 concert. For a few years, a keyboard riff from their song "No Regrets" became the background music for station breaks at WCAD-FM in San Juan. The band received formal recognition as distinguished visitors from the Puerto Rican legislature in February 2005. Their concert on December 9, 2007 (at the Pier 10 Arena club in Old San Juan) was the last concert that Michael Sadler did with Saga until his announcement of returning to the band in January 2011.

On January 16, 2007 it was announced by InsideOut, the band's current record label, that lead singer Michael Sadler would be leaving Saga for personal reasons at the end of 2007. Later that year on Michael's personal site, michaelsadler.com, a note was posted by the singer revealing that his departure was due to a desire to focus on his family life and retire from the stress of being in an active travelling band. A farewell tour of sorts was in the works which also commemorated Saga's 36th anniversary as a band. Saga announced on July 15, 2007 that they were recording a new album in Los Angeles. Titled 10,000 Days the album was released on November 6, 2007 in conjunction with their planned European tour. ("10,000 days" equates to 27 years, 4.54 months, approximately the amount of time Sadler spent with the band). Sadler also recorded a forthcoming DVD commemorating his last European tour with Saga. Just prior to the release of 10,000 Days, in October 2007 drummer Brian Doerner suffered a heart attack. He has since made a full recovery, but a stand-in drummer (Chris Sutherland) of the Kim Mitchell Band was required to fulfill touring commitments.

Saga announced they were auditioning lead vocalists to continue the band's career. The musicians recorded instrumental versions of "On the Loose" and "Wind Him Up" for prospective singers to perform on YouTube, with the winning candidate to be announced at a later date. During the search, Ian Crichton remarked that hopeful candidates "should have a set of pipes" as well as personality. The guitarist also remarked that a Canadian would be preferable, presumably because of travel considerations and the band's nationality. Over 20 candidates (including one woman) submitted demos from across the Atlantic and Caribbean.

SAGA's Michael Sadler.
Michael Sadler in August 2011
Ian Crichton.
Ian Crichton in August 2011

On April 15, 2008 Saga announced that Rob Moratti of Toronto, former singer of Final Frontier, had joined the band as the new lead vocalist. Moratti's background included more than a decade of experience in the Canadian rock music industry, recently working with the respected guitarist-producer Mladen Zaron. Throughout his tenure with the band, Moratti concentrated on lead vocals, leaving the band's instrumental dynamics somewhat changed from the Sadler era, where the lead vocalist often doubled on bass guitar and keyboards. Saga's first gig with Moratti took place in the summer of 2008. Also, 2008 saw the release of a book about the band's history, 'Saga: The Biography', by renowned rock journalist (and long-time friend of Saga), Edwin Ammerlaan.

In 2009 Saga released their first CD with Rob Moratti. This CD was titled The Human Condition and was released in the spring 2009. The band toured in Europe and Canada.

On January 28, 2011 an official statement was made announcing Michael Sadler's return as the lead singer of Saga.[2]

On February 1, 2012 Saga announced that after 6 years of touring and recording together, Brian Doerner and Saga have parted ways. Following YouTube auditions, Mike Thorne (a native of Toronto [3]) was announced as the new drummer of Saga. On July 6, 2012, Saga's twentieth studio album, 20/20, was released. It marked the return of original vocalist Michael Sadler.

On June 27, 2014 Saga released their 21st album entitled Sagacity, which received mostly positive feedback from fans. The album quickly topped the iTunes rock lists around Europe (most notably in Germany).

A reissue campaign covering the later years (from 1989 to 2007) was announced in 2015, spanning twelve albums in twelve months. However, after five remastered albums the campaign was seemingly aborted without any official statement from the record company, the live recordings intended for the series instead appearing as a live album Live in Hamburg 2015, which is strictly limited to 5000 copies worldwide.

In January 2017 Michael Sadler announced Saga's retirement following the completion of their farewell tour dubbed The Final Chapter Tour, which also marked their 40th anniversary. He also said that a "very special one-off performance" would take place on the 2018 edition of Cruise to the Edge in February 2018.[4][5]

On August 5, 2018 bassist and co-founder Jim Crichton departed the band before the final two shows, and was replaced by new member Dusty Chesterfield.[6] The tour spawned the live release So Good So Far – Live at Rock of Ages, which was released on September 28, 2018.[7]

After reconsideration from the request by the fans, Saga opted to continue with their live performances.[8]

In early 2020, the band performed in Germany and Scandinavia as part of their Out of the Shadows World Tour.[9]

Following the completion of the tour, the band members entered their respective home studios during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns to record an acoustic album titled Symmetry, which was released on March 12, 2021.[10] The first single "Tired World" was made available for streaming,[11] followed by "Wind Him Up" and "Always There". For the latter, the fans were asked to send in video material, which was then assembled into a video clip.[12][13] Although Jim Crichton had quit touring with the band, he was strongly involved with Symmetry, playing bass and supervising the new arrangements.

Band members[edit]



Studio albums[edit]

Title Release Peak chart positions
Saga 1978 33
Images at Twilight 1979
Silent Knight 1980 42 15 42
Worlds Apart 1981 22 29 9 5 33
Heads or Tales 1983 17 92 3 4 4 4
Behaviour 1985 39 87 2 6 4 3 29
Wildest Dreams 1987 77 18 11 8 17
The Beginner's Guide to Throwing Shapes 1989
The Security of Illusion 1993 46 41 38
Steel Umbrellas 1994 65 29 39
Generation 13 1995 89 49
Pleasure & the Pain 1997 93
Full Circle 1999 44
House of Cards 2001 34 100
Marathon 2003 40
Network 2004 78
Trust 2006 23 37
10,000 Days 2007 78
The Human Condition 2009 91
20/20 2012 13 39
Sagacity 2014 17 32
Symmetry 2021 11 20

Live albums[edit]


In Transit
  • Recorded & released: 1982
  • Formats: LP CD
Detours – Live
  • Recorded: 1997 / Released: 1998
  • Formats: 2CD
The Chapters Live
  • Recorded: 2003 / Released: 2005
  • Formats: 2CD
Worlds Apart Revisited
  • Recorded: 2005 / Released: 2007
  • Formats: 2CD + 2DVD
Contact – Live in Munich
  • Recorded: 2007 / Released: 2009
  • Formats: 2CD or 2CD + 2DVD
Heads or Tales – Live
  • Recorded: 2010 / Released: 2011
  • Formats: CD
Spin It Again! Live in Munich
  • Recorded: 2012 / Released: 2013
  • Formats: 2CD
Live in Hamburg
  • Recorded: 2015 / Released: 2016
  • Formats: 2CD 2LP
So Good So Far – Live at Rock of Ages
  • Recorded: 2017 / Released: 2018
  • Formats: 2CD Digipak, 2LP Gatefold+download code, DVD, Blu-ray and Digital

Compilation albums[edit]


Time's Up
  • Released: 1986
  • Formats: LP
The Works
  • Released: 1991
  • Formats: 2CD 2LP
1978–1993 All the Best
  • Released: 1993
  • Formats:
The Very Best of
  • Released: 1994
  • Formats:
Defining Moments
  • Released: 1994
  • Formats:
Saga Softworks
  • Released: 1995
  • Formats:
How Do I Look
  • Released: 1998
  • Formats:
Phase 1
  • Released: 1998
  • Formats:
Remember When – The Very Best of Saga
  • Released: 2006
  • Formats: 2CD
The Collection
  • Released: 2013
  • Formats: 3CD
Best of – Now and Then – The Collection
  • Released: 2015
  • Formats: 2CD
The Polydor Legacy
  • Released: 2017
  • Formats:
The Best of Saga: All Hits Since 1978
  • Released: 2021
  • Formats:


Title B-Side Release Peak chart positions Album
"How Long" "Humble Stance" 1978 Saga
"It's Time" "Take It or Leave It" 1979 84 Images at Twilight
"See Them Smile" "Mouse In a Maze"
"Don't Be Late" "Time to Go" 1980 Silent Knight
"Careful Where You Step" "Compromise"
"Wind Him Up" "No Stranger" 1981 22 7 64 24 Worlds Apart
"On the Loose" "Framed" 26 26 3
"Time's Up" "Amnesia" 1982
"On the Loose" (Live) "Don't Be Late" (Live) In Transit
"How Long" (Live) "On the Loose" (Live)
"The Flyer" "The Writing" 1983 79 19 Heads or Tales
"Cat Walk" "Social Orphan
"Scratching the Surface" "The Vendetta" 45
"What Do I Know" "Here I Am" 1985 57 65 24 Behaviour
"Misbehaviour" "You and the Night"
"Only Time Will Tell" "We've Been Here Before" 1987 93 Wildest Dreams
"Angel" "The Way of the World"
"The Nineties" "How Do I Look" 1989 The Beginner's Guide to Throwing Shapes
"Gotta Love It" "Solsbury Hill" 1991 The Works
"The Call" "On the Loose" 1992
"The Security of Illusion" "Stand Up" 1993 The Security of Illusion
"You Were Never Alone" "(Walking On) Thin Ice" 1994 Steel Umbrellas
"Why Not" "Steamroller"
"On the Loose" "We Hope You're Feeling Better"
"The Cross (Remix)"
1995 Generation 13
"Home" "The One" 1999 Full Circle
"Money Talks" "Don't Give Up" 2001 House of Cards
"Rise and Shine" "Hands Up" 2003 Marathon
"It's Your Life" "Trust" 2006 Trust
"Tired World" 2020 Symmetry
"Wind Him Up" 2021
"Always There"
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.


DVD title
  • Released: 2002
  • Formats: DVD
Marathon World Tour 2003: The Official Bootleg
  • Recorded & released: 2003
  • Formats: DVD
All Areas – Live in Bonn 2002
  • Recorded: 2002 / Released: 2004
  • Formats: DVD or 2DVD (including The Official Bootleg)
Worlds Apart Revisited
  • Recorded: 2005 / Released: 2007
  • Formats: 2CD + 2DVD
Contact – Live in Munich
  • Recorded: 2007 / Released: 2009
  • Formats: 2DVD or 2CD + 2DVD
Spin It Again! Live in Munich
  • Recorded: 2012 / Released: 2013
  • Formats: 2CD or DVD or Blu-ray


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Larkin, Colin, ed. (1995). The Guinness Who's Who of Heavy Metal (Second ed.). Guinness Publishing. pp. 307/8. ISBN 0-85112-656-1.
  2. ^ "SAGA Reunite With Singer Michael Sadler - Bravewords.com". Bravewords. Retrieved January 29, 2011.
  3. ^ "Mike Thorne Interview - Meet Saga's New Drummer - TMAKWorld.com". TMAKWorld. April 20, 2012. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  4. ^ "SAGA To Call It Quits After 'Final Chapter' Of Touring". Blabbermouth.net. Retrieved January 20, 2017.
  5. ^ "Cruise To The Edge 2018: The Successful Reinvention Of A Progressive Rock Festival". Sonic Perspectives. February 16, 2018. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
  6. ^ "#BreakingNews #SAGA #JimCrichton #DustyChesterfield For Immediate Release – Please Share". Twitter. Retrieved August 5, 2018.
  7. ^ "SAGA To Release New Live Album 'So Good So Far – Live At Rock Of Ages'". Blabbermouth.net. September 6, 2018. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  8. ^ "SAGA ANNOUNCES FUTURE SHOWS". sagagen.com. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  9. ^ "SAGA Out Of The Shadows World Tour 2020". rockmagazine.net (in German). February 9, 2020. Retrieved February 9, 2020.
  10. ^ Erwing, Jerry (November 25, 2020). "Saga announce new acoustic album". Louder Sound. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
  11. ^ "SAGA Releases 'Tired World' Single From 'Symmetry' Album". Blabbermouth.net. December 4, 2020. Retrieved December 4, 2020.
  12. ^ Vigezzi, Author: Jacopo (February 21, 2021). "[News] Saga publish the official fan video "Always There" from new upcoming album". Progressive Rock Journal. Retrieved March 28, 2021. {{cite web}}: |first= has generic name (help)
  13. ^ February 2021, Jerry Ewing20 (February 20, 2021). "Saga enlist fans for emotional video for new single Always There". Prog Magazine. Retrieved March 28, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  14. ^ "Discographie von Saga". GfK Entertainment. Retrieved March 19, 2021.
  15. ^ "swisscharts.com – Discography Saga" (in German). Hung Medien. Archived from the original on December 13, 2020. Retrieved March 21, 2021.

External links[edit]