Carl Wiser of Songfacts recently conducted an interview with SAXON frontman Biff Byford.
A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Songfacts: You wrote [the SAXON song] “They Played Rock And Roll” before you knew of [MOTÖRHEAD guitarist] Fast Eddie‘s death.
Biff: “I came up with the idea before Lemmy died, actually. The very first tour we ever did was in 1979 and it was with MOTÖRHEAD. We were a new band, just got our first album out and were about to release our second album, ‘Wheels Of Steel’, which went ballistic in sales over here. So, that tour for SAXON was a pivotal point in our very early career.
We became friends with MOTÖRHEAD — Lemmy, Eddie and Phil. In those days, we used to hang out with them, used to stay at their house. But it was a very massive thing we did back then, so I wanted to write a song about it and I wanted deal with the political climate.
When you see the video, you’ll understand what I mean. It’s a lyric video, but it’s not the normal lyric video. It’s just letting people know what it was like in 1979/1980 in England, especially in the working class, north of England.
It was chaos at that time and we came out of that and so did MOTÖRHEAD. So, the song’s about that tour basically. They recorded ‘No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith’ on that tour, the ‘Bomber’ tour, so the lyrics reference that. They taught us a lot about rock and roll because we were just naïve village boys.”
Songfacts: What are some specific things they taught you, Biff?
Biff: “Well, they allowed us to travel on their tour bus, they got us hotel rooms in all their hotels, they took us to a load of TV shows they were doing, because they were massive at that time. So, they befriended us and took us on board and showed us what Jack Daniels tastes like, and various other things. They used to bring quite a lot of models and people on the bus because they were quite well-known, especially Lemmy, so their entourage was something to behold, really.”
Songfacts: But, was there any type of advice or something that you did differently after meeting them?
Biff: “Oh, yeah, we did. I’ll tell you what we did: We started meeting fans after the show in the venue because that’s what MOTÖRHEAD used to do. Lemmy said, ‘Never forget your fans, and if people have paid money, if they’re waiting outside in the snow and in the cold, then bring them in the venue and sign the autographs in there.’ So, we started doing that, specifically, after MOTÖRHEAD did it. They gave me some bullet belts. We used to wear bullet belts in them days, so I used to start wearing bullet belts as part of the Bullet Belt Club. So, yeah, it was very leather jacket and jeans and bullet belts and studs. It was very rock and roll but metal, really. What can I say?”