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[Heavy Metal Music]- Original 1995 Profile: including Extracts by Moz Morris
The band started its embryonic life as the Dawson/Oliver outfit Son Of A Bitch (SOB) in late 1976 just at the time of the punk rock explosion. Steve Dawson called on Peter Byford (who then played bass guitar with a band called 'Coast') to join his and Oliver's group.
Byford's reply was somewhat uncertain and hinged on them also accepting 'Coast' guitarist Paul Quinn as part of the deal. Reluctantly at that time and in the words of young Stephen Dawson, we don't want another guitarist, Dawson and Oliver settled on Quinn's enrolment and to much amazement, here now, was probably the only band ever to have two guitar and two bass players all slogging it out in the same set.
Shortly after, having just completed an international tour as the original drummer with 'Glam-Rockers' - 'The Gary Glitter Band', Peter Gill joined the band adding his heavy duty style and tight rhythms that captured the attention of fans and envy of
other bands struggling to draw audiences by virtue of the SOB army following them everywhere they played.
Always a band to try and do things the hard way it was an uphill slog to try and get any recognition at all in those days. Heavy Metal was a dirty word and any signings that were taking place certainly were not Metal bands. So the usual hard toll of gigging around the country was the only answer taking the music to where it was still appreciated - the fans.
They managed to build up a very strong hard-core of fans - one of their regular gigs was the Civic Hall in Barnsley which was quite sizeable event then. A lot of the first Saxon album and even some of the seminal gold albums
'Wheels of Steel' (which entered the UK charts at No 10 staying there for an incredible 6 months) and 'Strong Arm Of The Law', dates from the original Son Of A Bitch live club set - stage classics honed to perfection just begging to be committed to vinyl. The hit single '747 Strangers In The Night' sold over 250,000 copies and is a timeless classic.
In 1979 the band managed to get a publishing deal with a company who were going to try and get them signed to a label. The label turned out to be the French outlet Carrere who had just started out in the UK and at that time had only been doing disco releases! They were a very unusual signing for the label but it must be said a wise one! They started to demo the first album and in the midst of these sessions came the decision to release Big Teaser as the lead single from the LP.
This was a huge success for the band in the Rock venues around the country and brought them to the attention of the music press. After a while the music press must have decided to look for the next BIG THING and, as luck would have it, it was to become The New Wave Of Heavy Metal (NWOHM for short!). As the first band to be signed up - before the name Saxonwas even thought of - they had a head start on Def Leppard and Iron Maiden.
As America was beckoning with the first dates shaping up over there, eventually supporting the release Stateside of Wheels Of Steel, Carrere' convinced the band late 1979 to change their name to SAXON. With their new name the band did very well considering it was the first trip out there.
Opening for Rush, Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, And AC/DCas well as doing some headlining club dates in their own right gained some good press along the way such as this form the Florida Times Union 22/9/80 - The crowd was fortunate, however, in that it had the opening act, SAXON, to latch onto.
In today's teen vernacular SAXON blew Rush off stage... and the loud requests for an encore, for once deserved by an opening act... and the finale - a perverted electric guitar version of 'Climb Every Mountain' followed by one of the guitarists setting his axe on fire with lighter fluid - wasn't distasteful or terribly creative or even very musical. But it was closer to the spirit of Rock 'n' Roll than Rush ever got
In mid 1980 Saxon were well on their way to reaching Gold status and after their then recent departure of regular haunts in English clubs and average venues, they could now be seen performing at the very first Monsters Of Rock festivalat Donington Park UK to a capacity crowd of well over 60,000 people headlined by Rainbow.
The band were third on the bill after Touch and April Wine. To say that up until they came on that the best reception for the two bands had been at best lukewarm would be an understatement. SAXON lit a fire with the first song and by that time they left the stage 45 minutes later they had a blaze going, rapidly extinguished by the next band on! They were the first band to play the same festival two years in a row.
1981 saw more dates for the band in America, two tours in fact, this time going out with Cheap Trick, Triumph and Molly Hatchet.
This consolidated the band's position even further with some areas going SAXON daft! As a taster for the band's next LP a single came out And The Bands Played On was the title and the single became yet another hit for the band and another appearance on that crucial metal program Top Of The Pops!
At this time the original renamed Saxon was still Graham Oliver, Stephen Dawson, Peter Gill, Paul Quinn and Peter Byford. By 1986, the morale having sadly deteriorated, Peter Gill and Steve 'Dobby' Dawson had left the fold to follow in other directions.
Peter Gill had joined Motorheadtouring world-wide and co-writing the two Gold albums 'Orgasmatron' and 'No Remorse'. More recently, in January 1995 after almost 20 years having been one of the founder creators of the original 'Son Of A Bitch' (SOB) with bassist Stephen Dawson, Graham Oliver departs the Saxon team and now joins his old 'SOB' friends in the studio.
Word of Graham's departure soon spread throughout England and Europe as well as rumours of secret rendezvous' and the suspected regeneration of 'Son Of A Bitch'. With the introduction of top session guitarist Haydn Conway into the fold, things were becoming very exciting as SOB worked on a tight schedule writing new material for the up-coming album.
It wasn't very long before the music press were beginning to speculate and write about the band having more original members from Saxon than Biff Byford. The final piece of the jig-saw was set in place with a surprise telephone message to Graham's home from Germany. It was 'Thunderhead' front man Ted Bullet on the line.
Thunderhead's last album (Were You Told The Truth About Hell) reached No. 12 in the Japanese rock charts. Their album prior to this current release, was listed in the European Billboard charts and reached No. 2 in Japan. The die was cast and out of the mold emerged the fabulous new line-up. Collectively, these artists can claim album sales to their credit in excess of 8 million copies.
Now, we present Graham Oliver, Steve Dawson and Peter Gill recording their new album with the incredible talents of lead guitarist Haydn Conway and sensational rock vocalist Ted Bullet.