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Saxon began life as Son of a Bitch, with Peter Byford, Paul Quinn, Graham Oliver, Steve “Dobby” Dawson and Pete Gill. They changed their name to Saxon in the late 70s and secured a support slot with Motorhead, which helped raise their profile. They were signed to Carrere in 1979 and released their eponymous debut album that year.
1980 saw the release of Wheels of Steel, which reached number five in the UK album chart. The title track and the single 747 (Strangers in the Night) proved extremely popular and became crowd favourites at Saxon concerts. Their next album, Strong Arm of the Law, was released later that year and was very well received by fans. Denim and Leather was released in 1981, with the title track becoming an anthem of the early 80s metal movement.
Saxon tickets went on sale for their headlining tour of Europe, and they sold consistently well with Ozzy Osbourne supporting. Their next album, Power & The Glory, helped them establish themselves as one of the front runners in European metal alongside Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Saxon tickets for their Power and Glory tour sold at record speeds and they were supported by Accept, who also proved popular.
Their next album, Crusader, came out in 1984. It marked a small change in sound for the band as they became more mainstream. For the next Saxon tour they had Motley Crue and Krokus as support, and the World Crusade tour was a big success.
A deal with EMI saw the band, according to some, ‘polish’ their hard metal sound to reach a more widespread audience. After another big Saxon tour, bassist Steve Dawson decided to part ways with the band and the next album, Rock the Nation, was recorded without a bass player. Elton John provided piano on a couple of tracks which was met with a mixed reception from fans. However, the album was still a good seller and fans still bought Saxon tickets in their droves.
After headlining several festivals, a European tour and releasing their album Destiny in 1988, they parted ways with EMI and were on hiatus until 1990 when they signed to Virgin Records. Five more studio albums followed in the 90s, with 1999’s Metalhead showing them embracing a heavier metal sound.
They’ve been regularly touring and recording throughout the 00s, too. The Inner Sanctum album was considered as their best work in years by many critics, and the extensive tour which followed in 2007 saw thousands of Saxon tickets sell out. The band’s music has always been consistently impressive, which has kept them their original fans and earned them legions of new ones along the way.
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