Skip to main content

Saxon And The Story Of Denim And Leather

Portrait of Saxon
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Saxon had a huge task with their fourth album. The 1980 albums Wheels Of Steel and Strong Arm Of The Law had established them as a major band. But Denim And Leather was to become acknowledged as Saxon's third great album, and continued the success of the previous pair.

This was the last Saxon album, with what is regarded as the classic line-up of Biff Byford (vocals), Graham Oliver and Paul Quinn (guitar), Steve Dawson (bass) and Pete Gill (drums).

The song Princess Of The Night was not about some random female stranger met after dark - get your mind out of the gutter - but a railway siding near to where the band used to sometimes sleep in their van after a show. A place for out of service steam engines to sit and quietly rust away. Biff: “I had a title of Wheels of Steel and I had a title Princess of the Night. And I didn’t use Princess of the Night on the first two albums. But Paul Quinn came up with a riff and it sort of fit my lyrics. So that song was written very quickly, very quickly indeed. I already had the lyrics and the riff went together so simply, really smooth.”

And The Bands Played On was written in celebration of the 1980 Monsters Of Rock festival. It’s the band’s most successful UK single, reaching number 12. Biff: “Originally it was a lot longer - there were three other verses, one about us, one about the American bands and one about Judas Priest. But we chopped it down a bit”.

This was the third Saxon album to be released in a period of just 17 months.

In the song Denim And Leather itself, the line ‘Did you listen to the radio every Friday night’ was a reference to Radio One’s iconic Friday Rock Show, presented by Tommy Vance.

The song Midnight Rider is about Danny ‘Scatterbrain’ Straid, Saxon’s tour manager. He became renowned for various cock ups on the band’s first American tour, all of which are detailed here.

Just before the tour started, Gill suffered a hand injury and left the band. He was replaced by Nigel Glockler. The band say that Gill tried to return to the line-up a few days into the tour, but Saxon stuck with Glockler.

Denim And Leather was the second, and last, Saxon studio album to make the Top 10 in the UK. It peaked at number nine. It was also the first to chart in Germany, where it got to number 37.

This was the first Saxon album to be recorded outside of the UK. It was mostly done in Switzerland, but there was work also done at the Abba owned Polar Studios in Stockholm.

NWOBHM Quiz

Malcolm Dome had an illustrious and celebrated career which stretched back to working for Record Mirror magazine in the late 70s and Metal Fury in the early 80s before joining Kerrang! at its launch in 1981. His first book, Encyclopedia Metallica (opens in new tab), published in 1981, may have been the inspiration for the name of a certain band formed that same year. Dome is also credited with inventing the term "thrash metal" while writing about the Anthrax song Metal Thrashing Mad in 1984. He would later become a founding member of RAW rock magazine in 1988.

In the early 90s, Malcolm Dome was the Editor of Metal Forces magazine, and also involved in the horror film magazine Terror, before returning to Kerrang! for a spell. With the launch of Classic Rock magazine in 1998 he became involved with that title, sister magazine Metal Hammer, and was a contributor to Prog magazine since its inception in 2009. He was actively involved in Total Rock Radio (opens in new tab), which launched as Rock Radio Network in 1997, changing its name to Total Rock in 2000. In 2014 he joined the TeamRock online team as Archive Editor, uploading stories from all of our print titles and helping lay the foundation for what became Louder.

Dome was the author of many books on a host of bands from AC/DC to Led Zeppelin and Metallica, some of which he co-wrote with Prog Editor Jerry Ewing.