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.
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 Motörhead.
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.
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 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 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 March 5, 2007, and North America on April 3, 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 12 January 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.