Saxon

Saxon are an English heavy metal band, formed in 1976 in Barnsley, Yorkshire. As leading lights in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal they had huge success in the 1980s with 8 UK Top 40 albums including 4 UK Top 10 albums. Saxon also had numerous singles in the Top 20 singles chart. Between 1980 and 1987 Saxon established themselves as one of Europe's biggest metal acts, they also had success in Japan and in the USA. In Japan, the single "Motorcycle Man" stayed in the charts for over 5 months. They still tour heavily and regularly. Their latest tour is their largest in the UK since the late 1980s. Saxon have sold more than 13 million albums worldwide and heavily influenced bands such as Metallica, Megadeth, Sodom and Running Wild.


There is another incarnation of Saxon featuring two former band members who hold the legal rights to the name - "Oliver/Dawson Saxon".


History


Saxon began with a lineup of Peter "Biff" Byford on vocals, Paul Quinn and Graham Oliver on guitars, Steve "Dobby" Dawson on bass and drummer Pete "Frank" Gill. 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 Mot?Ârhead.


In 1979 the band signed to the Carrere record label and released their eponymous debut album. In 1980 follow-up album Wheels of Steel (UK no 5) spawned two hit singles: the title track, and the crowd favourite "747 (Strangers in the Night)". The Strong Arm of the Law album (UK no 11), considered by fans to be one of their best recordings, was released later that same year, and chart success continued with singles from their next release, Denim and Leather (1981 UK no 9). The title track to that album is seen as an anthem of the early 1980s metal movement. Later legal issues with Carrere negated most if not all of the financial gains seen during their early success.


Saxon - Sixth Form Girls excerpt
An excerpt from Strong Arm of the Law 's Sixth Form Girls

A relentless series of headlining tours around the UK capitalised on this success and a sold out tour of Europe with support act Ozzy Osbourne 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). In America they were supported by, amongst others, Metallica and they finished the U.S. tour with four sold out shows in Los Angeles.


As the NWOBHM movement began to fade 1983's Power & the Glory saw Saxon establish themselves as one of the major European metal acts together 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 bands conquest of the American market.


Crusader, released in 1984 (UK no 12) sold well and the 1984 world tour "The World Crusade" was again a success both in Europe and America. In the US they had M?Âtley Cr??e 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 americanized sound on Crusader and fans began to wonder what direction the band was taking.


They signed with EMI in 1985 and 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 US attraction. The album has however gained more critical acclaim with the years. A huge world tour followed but in early 1986 bassist Steve Dawson left the band 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 2 tracks Byford laid down the bass parts and soon hired Paul Johnson to fill the spot and a European arena tour followed.


With American success hard to find and European support declining the release of the disappointing Destiny (1988) did not help and Saxon were later dropped by EMI. They found new life in 1990, signed to Virgin Records and released five studio albums in the 90s before becoming increasingly popular in the new millennium with a string of strong album releases.


Saxon's The Inner Sanctum album, released in Europe on , 2007, and North America on , was seen by many critics as their best work in years. In 2007, they started a world tour in support of The Inner Sanctum which saw them have only 15 nights off from 60 dates.


Saxon released a new studio album entitled "Into the Labyrinth" on 2009. In February, it was announced that the band were cancelling the Spanish leg of their European tour with Iced Earth, due to scheduling issues.


Collaboration with Harvey Goldsmith
Saxon in Italy, at the Evolution Festival 2006.

In 2007, Saxon was the subject of an episode of Harvey Goldsmith's Get Your Act Together.


As part of his program, Goldsmith wanted to try and restore their popularity and cement their reputation as a great band once again. He drafted in two new producers to overlook the production of the new single If I Was You (a song about gun culture), which went straight to number one of 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.


Line-ups


Throughout the band's history line-up changes have been common, but with Byford and Quinn remaining as constants. Gill left in 1981 after injuring his hand, to be replaced by Nigel Glockler, formerly of Toyah Willcox's band, who was himself replaced twice ??? briefly between 1987 and 1988 (by Nigel Durham), and, more permanently, following an injury of his own in 1998. Glockler rejoined the band in 2005 after his neck and shoulder injury had been healed.


Gill later went on to play for Mot?Ârhead. Dawson departed in 1986 ??? his replacement, Paul Johnson, lasted two years before leaving. Nibbs Carter has filled the position ever since.


When Graham Oliver left in 1995 (replaced by Doug Scarratt), the band split into two different Saxon groups - one dominated by vocalist Byford and his cohort Quinn and the other consisting of original Saxon members Oliver and Dawson. A period of legal actions ensued, resulting in both groups having the right to use Saxon in their name (although former member one must be indicated as "Oliver/Dawson Saxon"). 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 J?Ârg Michael.


The line-up that played on the Lionheart album consisted of Byford on vocals, guitarists Quinn and Scarrat, Carter on bass and Michael on drums. The German originally agreed to perform on the album as a session musician, but following his firing from Stratovarius was hired as a full-time member. Following the rapid reunion of Stratovarius, Michael departed after only a year in the job, opening the door for Glockler to return to Saxon. Saxon recorded The Inner Sanctum after the release of the live album The Eagle Has Landed - part 3, which features Glockler and Micheal on drums, as well as former drummer Fritz Randow.


Line-up history


Founding members of Saxon listed in bold


Son of a Bitch (1976-1978)
Biff Byford - vocals
Graham Oliver - guitar
Paul Quinn - guitar
Steve Dawson - bass
David Ward - drums
Saxon (1978-present)
Original lineup (1978-1981)
Biff Byford - vocals
Graham Oliver - guitar
Paul Quinn - guitar
Steve Dawson - bass
Pete Gill - drums
Second lineup (1981-1986)
Biff Byford - vocals
Graham Oliver - guitar
Paul Quinn - guitar
Steve Dawson - bass
Nigel Glockler - drums
Third lineup (1986-1987)
Biff Byford - vocals
Graham Oliver - guitar
Paul Quinn - guitar
Paul Johnson - bass
Nigel Glockler - drums
Fourth lineup (1987-1988)
Biff Byford - vocals
Graham Oliver - guitar
Paul Quinn - guitar
Paul Johnson - bass
Nigel Durham - drums
Fifth lineup (1988-1994)
Biff Byford - vocals
Graham Oliver - guitar
Paul Quinn - guitar
Nibbs Carter - bass
Nigel Glockler - drums
Sixth lineup (1995-1999)
Biff Byford - vocals
Doug Scarratt - guitar
Paul Quinn - guitar
Nibbs Carter - bass
Nigel Glockler - drums
Seventh lineup (1999-2004)
Biff Byford - vocals
Doug Scarratt - guitar
Paul Quinn - guitar
Nibbs Carter - bass
Fritz Randow - drums
Eighth lineup (2004-2005)
Biff Byford - vocals
Doug Scarratt - guitar
Paul Quinn - guitar
Nibbs Carter - bass, keyboards
J?Ârg Michael - drums
Present lineup (2005-present)
Biff Byford - vocals
Doug Scarratt - guitar
Paul Quinn - guitar
Nibbs Carter - bass, keyboards
Nigel Glockler - drums

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Original Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saxon