Biff Byford Believes Hair Metal Bands Stole Saxon’s Style

In an interview with the Gustavo Maiato YouTube channel, Biff Byford discussed the most challenging period for his band, Saxon. He pinpointed the late eighties as the most difficult time, indicating that the iconic look of hair metal bands was stolen from Saxon. He said:

“I think the most challenging period in our career and a lot of British metal bands‘ career was the sort of early ’90s, late ’80s when a lot of hair metal came in — your Cindirellas, your Mötley Crües, and your Poisons, they seemed to take our style and make it their own style and they became very popular.”

Byfford then spoke about the impact of the ‘grunge’ movement of the nineties on their audience. He continued:

“I think when grunge happened over on the West Coast, that made a big hole in a lot of our audience. A lot of rock fans, especially younger rock fans, went to see Pearl Jam and Nirvana and people like that. So I think that sort of American new wave of grunge thing went ’round the world like we did. So I don’t see any problem with it… We came back later; I think, in the ’90s, we came back again strong.”

He concluded his comments with a self-critique. He said:

“And maybe we weren’t writing such good songs in the ’80s—maybe in the late ’80s, you know, like [1988’s] ‘Destiny’. I think, really, until we got to [1991’s] ‘Solid Ball Of Rock’, I think that’s really when we started to turn it around again.”

The Two Sides Of The Opinions On The Hair Metal

Hair metal’s origins and its influences from various genres or bands have been a topic of ongoing debate for years. While some rock stars have been aggressive in their messages about this issue, others have adopted a more moderate approach. One of these is Stephen Pearcy from the band RATT. In an interview conducted by Goldmine Mag last July, Pearcy mentioned that he is not bothered by the hair metal movement. He said:

“That scene is a big part of what I’ll be doing over the next couple of years—celebrate the Sunset Strip scene. But the funny thing is that the term “hair metal” bothers a lot of people, but it doesn’t bother me at all. And the truth is that Ratt, along with a select few other bands, really kicked off that entire scene, you know?”

On the origins of the hair metal, he continued:

“If you went out to L.A. in the early to mid-80s, you had Van Halen, who was sort of the frontrunner of that scene, and then you had Mötley Crüe, Poison, Ratt, and a few others. So, we were right there. My greatest memories are the shared experiences between us and those bands as we essentially created that whole Sunset Strip experience. And in a lot of ways, I’m trying to bring that experience from the past into the future with this box set.”

The Origins Of Hair Metal

Hair metal isn’t just a topic of discussion among rock stars; it’s also the focus of various research articles. An article by the online publication Live About explored the history of hair metal. According to this article, hair metal was influenced by late ’70s and early ’80s glam rock, adopting extravagant styles like big hair and makeup. Bands like Slade and Aerosmith influenced its musical sound. It gained popularity in the U.S., especially on Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip in the early ’80s. During its peak in the ’80s, hair bands had significant radio and MTV hits, making it a popular music genre.

However, numerous less talented copycat bands eventually diluted the genre. The emergence of grunge music in the early ’90s marked the decline of hair metal, leading many bands to break up or go on hiatus. By the late ’90s and 2000s, nostalgia revived interest in hair metal. Bands like Poison, Motley Crue, and Ratt continued to draw large crowds to their concerts, though their newer material didn’t receive as much acclaim.