- 15 Feb Preston 53 Degrees
Saxon was one of the early leaders of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, along with Iron Maiden and Def Leppard. The band was formed in Barnsley in 1977 by vocalist Biff Byford, guitarists Graham Oliver and Paul Quinn, bassist Steve Dawson, and drummer Pete Gill. Originally calling themselves Son of a Bitch, they soon decided to find a more subtle name, settling on Saxon. Like many young metal bands of the day, Saxon found it difficult to land a record deal in post-punk England, but eventually signed with French-based Carrere Records. Though Saxon's 1979 self-titled debut album was marred by a lightweight production job, the band built a strong following touring Britain as support group to Motörhead and Nazareth. The band capitalized on this exposure with their sophomore effort the following year. Wheels of Steel featured a much heavier, metallic sound which finally did their songs justice. The album was immediately heralded as a NWOBHM classic by fans and critics alike and the band was apparently on their way.