Saxon frontman Biff Byford on Yorkshire, Metallica and rock'n'roll
Saxon frontman Biff Byford talks us through his life – from working in the mills, to fronting one of Britain’s most loved heavy metal bands
On January 15 this year, the singer of one of Britain’s greatest heavy metal bands turned 65. Peter Rodney Byford, known to friends and fans as simply Biff, has led Saxon, who have released more than 20 studio albums, for 38 years through thick and thin. He was born in the old mining town of Honley, West Yorkshire and now lives 100 miles away in the seaside town of Whitby. He is one of rock’n’roll’s true working-class heroes, and this is his world view.
YORKSHIRE ISN’T JUST A PLACE, IT’S A STATE OF MIND
Being a Yorkshireman means you tell it like it is. That’s the cliché. Or you tell it how you think it is, which is slightly different. In the last ten or twenty years, Northern accents have become a lot cooler than they were. Now, a lot of TV presenters have quite broad accents, instead of the old posh BBC style. At one point you were considered stupid if you had a Northern accent. That’s gone now.
IT WASN’T ALL GRIM UP NORTH IN THE OLD DAYS
I liked working in the factories when I was young. My mates were there, and there were lots of girls around – hundreds of women in the weaving sheds. It was a happy environment. And the local pub was where all the real fun happened. Even when I was too young to go in there, I’d hang around outside with my mates and people would bring us a beer. It was a different time then. It was safe as well.
HARD TIMES ARE JUST A FACT OF LIFE
My mum died when I was eleven. That was tough at such a young age. She was a musician, a pianist, so in my early years I was always surrounded my music, and that was something that stuck with me. To be honest, I can’t think how it would have gone if my mum would have lived. What happens is you grow up fast.