His heavy metal band caused shock waves around the world.

And 35 years on, the massive impact of Saxon on the new wave scene can still be felt as former Huddersfield resident and lead singer, Biff Byford, gets ready to set out on their epic 35th anniversary tour.

It’s a far cry from Biff’s early days in Honley and in Skelmanthorpe, but he always hankered to be a rock musician.

Selling more than 15 million records world wide, counting 20 albums under the band’s belt and acting as a major influence of later heavyweight gods such as Metallica, Mötley Crüe and Megadeath, it has certainly been a spectacular career for Biff so far, who started out his life in what he describes as a “troglodyte house” in Honley.

And Biff, 63, has no plans to stop any time soon after revealing that he was writing songs for a new album to be released next year.

So far this year the band has already torn down the house at 16 festivals and is now gearing up for the 38 date European tour, Warriors of the Road.

Biff said: “We come from humble backgrounds. My mum was a textile worker and my dad was a coal miner and weaver.

“I was born in a troglodyte house in Honley and grew up on a council estate then in King Street in Skelmanthorpe.

“It’s always been what I’ve wanted to do and luckily we’ve made a success of it.”

1980s magazine cover of Biff Byford
 

He, Paul Quinn, Graham Oliver, Steve “Dobby” Dawson and David Ward came together as Son of a Bitch when Biff was only 15. And it was just four years later that he left Skelmanthorpe for good to embark upon their world wide quest to reinvent the heavy metal scene.

Biff said: “Because the rest of the band came from Barnsley and Rotherham we didn’t play in Huddersfield. The closest we got was Halifax Civic Hall and colleges such as Bretton - but we used to rehearse in nearby village halls in Denby Dale and around.

He is one of several heavy metal musicians to hail from Honley, alongside Ol and Matt Drake of Evile and former Ckreed and Babe Ruth rocker, Dave Hewitt.

Biff said: “It must be a melting pot for the genre but I can’t think why but it’s great that so many musicians have come out of the village”

By 1978 they had an impressive following and had their first taste of metal super stardom soon after when they supported Nazareth on tour.

But it was in 1980 that the band realised they were hitting the big time when they scored a place in the line up at the first ever Monsters of Rock festival in 1980, following the release of their seminal second album, Wheels of Steel, which reached the top five in the UK charts.

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Biff said: “It all happened so fast that it was like riding a bullet.

“By that point 200,000 albums had been sold, it was great.

“I’ve no idea what made that year so good for us, I guess it was a mix of strong players, chemistry and a bit of luck.”

Although finding the USA a hard nut to crack and coping with several member changes, Biff and the band took other countries by storm, quickly becoming renowned as one of the world’s classic heavy metal acts.

They have gigged relentlessly to sell out crowds in Germany, Japan, Australia and South America, who continue to be bowled over by their uncompromising sound and bold lyrics.

Biff said: “The new wave scene had a massive impact on heavy metal across the world and we were glad to be a part of it

“I think writing about history goes really well with heavy metal, although some of our songs are just good rock and roll.

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“Every album has been a personal favourite at the time but Wheels of Steel, Strong Arm of the Law and Denim and Leather were definitely the biggest.”

Amidst writing for the new album Biff has just released an album, The Hybrid, as part of his new project, The Scintilla Project and is working on solo material.

 

Saxon will play at Leeds Academy on December 2, which will coincide with the release of their new DVD, Heavy Metal Thunder Live.

Biff said: “I’m looking forward to coming back home-we like playing everywhere but coming back to Yorkshire is great because we get to play to our fellow countymen. Going on tour to meet our fans-both those who’ve been with us throughout and the younger generations that are now getting into us, is a fantastic experience.

“I’ve no idea what the future holds, aside from going on a nice Christmas holiday, we just take every day as it comes - we like the surprises.”