Saxon are an English heavy metal band formed in 1977, in South Yorkshire. As one of the leaders 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. The band also had numerous singles in the UK Singles Chart and chart success all over Europe and Japan, as well as success in the US.
During the 1980s Saxon established themselves as one of Europe’s biggest metal acts. The band tours regularly and have sold more than 15 million albums worldwide. They are considered one of the classic metal acts and have influenced many bands such as Metallica, Mötley Crüe, Pantera, Sodom.
Saxon began with a lineup formed by Peter “Biff” Byford on vocal, Paul Quinn and Graham Oliver on guitar, Steve “Dobby” Dawson on bass; and drummer Pete Gill and were originally named “Son of a Bitch”. The band changed their name to Saxon shortly afterwards. They started out by gaining support slots on tour with more established bands such as Motörhead.
In 1979, the band signed to the UK record label Carrere run by Freddy Cannon and the first group signed to the UK label and released their eponymous debut album.
In 1980, the band’s follow-up album Wheels of Steel, was released and charted at #5 in the UK. It spawned two hit singles: the title track, and the crowd favourite “747 (Strangers in the Night)”. The album quickly provided the band with success and they began a series of long-lasting tours across the UK. On 16 August 1980 Saxon appeared at the first Monsters of Rock Festival where they received a very positive reception from the crowd. The band’s set was recorded but was not officially released until 2000. On April 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 was released later in the year, charting at #11 in the UK. It is considered by many fans to be their best album, and it helped to keep the band’s popularity increasing. Two singles were released from this album: the title track and Dallas 1PM, the latter written about the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. Sold out tours of Europe and the UK followed as the album charted in several European countries. The band had also gained great success in Japan where the single Motorcycle Man had stayed in the charts for almost 6 months.
By 1981, the band had toured most of the world and found themselves with less time to record new material. But recording finally started at several European locations, and at the end of 1981 the band released their fourth album Denim And Leather which the band dedicated to their fan base. The album is still popular today and the title track “Denim And Leather” is regarded as a metal anthem. The album also featured many other fan favourites such as “Princess of the Night”, “Never Surrender” and “The Bands Played On” which were all UK Top 20 hits. Denim And Leather followed its predecessor’s success and went Gold in several European countries including the UK. By this time the band was seen as the leaders of the NWOBHM movement with future greats Iron Maiden and Def Leppard following close behind.
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