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. 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 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 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 toil 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 hardcore of fans - one of their regular gigs was the Civic Hall in Barnsley which was quite a 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 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 Saxon was 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/DC as well as doing some headlining club dates in their own right gained some good press along the way such as this from 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 festival at 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 the 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 festival two years in a row.
Pete Gill left in 1982 due to recurring illness. Steve Dawson left SAXON after the recording of "Innocence Is No Excuse" to pursue other avenues and Graham Oliver did the same in 1995. The forming of Oliver/Dawson Saxon had been on the cards for a while, Steve and Pete were keen to get back in the studio, and with top guitarist Graham now free from other commitments, serious rehearsing and song writing started in earnest . A second guitarist, Haydn Conway was invited to join and the hunt for a frontman began.
Ted Bullet, frontman of THUNDERHEAD was very interested in the new project and gave Graham a call. Although from America, Ted found huge success with his band in Japan and in Europe and had the perfect vocal agility for the job. Recording started in July 1996 at Revolutions Studios, Manchester, UK and "VICTIM YOU" was released under the original Son Of A Bitch name by Hengest Records at the beginning of 1996.
Their debut gig was headlining at the Isle Of Man TT races and was featured on Sky TV, and the second was a Hell's Angel Biker Festival in Zurich. They supported THUNDER in Spain, KINGDOM COME in Belgium, which was broadcast all over Germany and parts of Europe and toured extensively in Holland and Brazil and completed two UK tours.
Pete Gill resigned the drummer's chair again due to illness in favour of Nigel Durham who served with SAXON during the "destiny" album and tour. Ted went back to America to try his hand at other projects - good luck Ted! The new frontman is John Ward who has recently worked with SLASH (from Guns and Roses) on his solo projects. The new additions to the line-up have proved to be a real boost to the live set, and fans love hearing their favourite SAXON tunes by original artists