"It's A Long Way To The Top tells you everything you need to know about being in a rock band": Why I ❤️ AC/DC, by Saxon's Biff Byford

The cover of AC/DC's High Voltage and (inset) Biff Byford)
(Image credit: Biff Byford: Mick Hutson)

"Someone gave me a cassette of High Voltage, and the second I heard It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock’N’Roll) I immediately ran to the boys [in Saxon] to show it them. I played it in our van for about five months straight! But the band’s whole DNA changed. We liked the energy of punk, because it was fast and furious, but we needed AC/DC for that groove. Put the two together and you get Saxon. 

It’s A Long Way To The Top tells you everything you need to know about being in a rock band. Bon always wrote great lyrics. He was a bit of a gangster, and that stuff is very linked with rock music somehow. When we started out it was a dangerous place! A lot of people from dodgy upbringings, for want of a better word, were always attracted to rock music. About sixteen/seventeen we’d do a bit of shoplifting and nicking stuff from people’s gardens. Bon got that stuff." 

“I remember going to see AC/DC for the first time in Sheffield. I don’t think it was the first tour they did in the UK, but it was definitely an early one. They had the UK Subs supporting, which was really fucking bizarre. The Subs came on stage and something happened, and next thing we knew, the bass player had jumped into the audience and was fighting! Angus came on stage, and although he didn’t say anything, everybody calmed down and they finished their set. The Subs were good, but AC/DC were great, building with these riffs until Bon came out and then everything just took off.

“Saxon ended up playing a few shows with AC/DC, right after they’d released Back In Black. I was sat backstage telling Malcolm Young how we’d seen them in Sheffield and he thought that was fantastic. They’d got this bar backstage that they were really proud of, and their manager told us they’d booked us just because they wanted to hear 747 (Strangers In The Night) live, which was great for us – we’d gone full circle!”

Biff Byford was speaking with Rich Hobson. 

Rich Hobson

Staff writer for Metal Hammer, Rich has never met a feature he didn't fancy, which is just as well when it comes to covering everything rock, punk and metal for both print and online, be it legendary events like Rock In Rio or Clash Of The Titans or seeking out exciting new bands like Nine Treasures, Jinjer and Sleep Token.