Saxon vocalist Peter “Biff” Byford is a Yorkshireman with strictly old-school values.
Once photographed enjoying a cup of tea while his wife washed his car with her broken arm in a sling, he likes his Metal plain and simple.
Saxon are best remembered for early-80s hits such as Wheels Of Steel and 747 (Strangers In The Night); thunderous gauche heavy metal anthems delivered with indomitable gusto.
After years in the wilderness labouring under the unfortunate moniker of Son Of A Bitch, Saxon suddenly burst forth in big style from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, in 1979 with a debut album, Crusader, issued on little-known Carrere Records (a label better known for French disco releases than for daubs of South Yorkshire war paint).
In their early years, the band toured the country in an Oldsmobile Cutlass – a hulking American gas-guzzler which must have looked fabulously incongruous parked outside Barnsley’s Centenary Rooms or the Victoria Hotel in Cudworth as the band racked up thousands of road miles.
For two years after Crusader, Saxon’s career soared and soared. The albums Wheels Of Steel, Strong Arm Of The Law and Denim and Leather – machine-gunned out in the space of 18 months – were stone-cold instant classics, and the group became standard bearers for a new grass-roots rock movement in the UK.
By the end of the 1980s, Saxon’s attempts to polish their woah-oh anthemics just couldn’t fail, and Baptism Of Fire had a pummeling drive whose energy epitomised the extra vim new bassist Tim ‘Nibbs’ Carter injected into the band.
Forever Free (1992) sounded better still, with the thunderous high-octane Hole In The Sky and Nighthunter setting the controls for cracking your skull.
Then Dogs Of War (1995) carried on where that left off, and as well as boasting vintage earworm riffs on Great White Buffalo and the title track, the album benefitted from a beefier production.
In 2007, Saxon were the subject of the TV show Get Your Act Together, where promoter Harvey Goldsmith was tasked with reviving the fortunes of failing entertainment businesses.
Harry Shearer based the character of Derek Smalls, the bassist in Spinal Tap, on Saxon bass player Steve ‘Dobby’ Dawson. Dawson insists he never put a cucumber down his keks – only held one between his legs for a photo session.
Peter ‘Biff’ Byford
Steve ‘Dobby’ Dawson
Tim ‘Nibbs’ Carter