BIFF BYFORD Looks Back On METALLICA's 1982 Gig As Support Act For SAXON: 'They Didn't Talk To Us For A Long Time' After That
December 14, 2021
During an appearance on "The Chuck Shute Podcast", vocalist Biff Byford of British heavy metal legends SAXON was asked to recount a "good story" involving the members of METALLICA. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Back in the day, METALLICA, they supported us. [We played at] the Whisky [A Go Go] club [in West Hollywood in March 1982]. On that night, Ozzy [Osbourne] came to see us. I think we were out having dinner or something before the gig or doing something. And METALLICA was setting up on stage. And I wasn't there. I was there later for their show, but I wasn't there [when they were setting up]. And I had a huge electric fan there in front of me, and I think METALLICA asked if they could use it, and our tour manager said 'No.' So they didn't use it. They didn't talk to us for a long, long time because of that. [Laughs]"
He continued: "I wrote a book, an autobiography, a few years ago, and in the book, I said, 'Look, if you wanna use the fan anytime in the future, it's no problem. You can use it guys.' And they got in touch with me after that. They must have realized that it was a bit stupid. And we got on [and became] big friends after that. So, that was pretty cool."
Back in December 2011, Byford joined METALLICA on stage for the first of four intimate shows at the 1,200-capacity Fillmore in San Francisco as part of the week-long celebration of its 30th anniversary as a band for fan club members only. The iconic metal vocalist performed the SAXON classic "Motorcycle Man" with METALLICA.
It wasn't the first time Biff and METALLICA had surprised their fans with a live rendition of the song: in 2009, Byford joined the San Francisco heavy metal giants in Paris, at Palais Omnisport de Bercy.
METALLICA's second-ever gig was opening for SAXON, and Biff has been a longtime friend of the California band; like many other seminal bands of the genre, METALLICA always recognized SAXON as one of their main influences.
When METALLICA played Sheffield Arena on February 28, 2009, they invited as VIP guests former SAXON members Graham Oliver and Steve Dawson.
"In 1982 SAXON played the Whisky a Go-Go on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood," Graham explained to SouthYorkshireTimes.co.uk. "It was sold out and Steve and me were asked if we would pick out a support band from a pile of cassettes sent in by young metal bands. METALLICA were far and away the best and even though it was only their second-ever gig; we saw their potential and picked them out to play. We have been friends ever since. They have always had a soft spot for us. Over the years, they have cited us as a big influence and we are always welcomed at their gigs around the world. METALLICA have played Sheffield three times and they always treat us as VIPs. At Rock Am Ring — Germany's biggest rock festival — they played part of our song 'Princess Of The Night'. I wrote that riff in a council house in Dryden Road. Back then we were just some kids from Mexborough who once had a dream. To be supported by the band which became one of the biggest in the world, I think that is pretty special. We were sat in the auditorium at Sheffield and they played the old SAXON track 'Heavy Metal Thunder' as their intro track. Kirk Hammett [METALLICA guitarist] told me he loves the solo in that. They played in the round and it was very loud but it was a very pure sound.
"James Hetfield [METALLICA frontman] is a lovely bloke, but their drummer Lars Ulrich is probably the biggest SAXON fan of them all," he continued. "He told us that our 1980 album 'Wheels Of Steel' is his favorite and said it was a benchmark for them. It is hard for someone of my generation to see that. When I meet someone who played at the Woodstock festival, I am enthusiastic about it. I suppose it is the same for them. We were one of the bands to play in the first Donington Festival and METALLICA were a bit in awe and asked us what those days were like."