Saxon was born Richard Elvern Marsh in Salt Lake City, Utah. Different sources suggest a birth year of 1937, 1945 or 1946. His widow has said that his birthday was August 20, but would not confirm the year because he believed age was irrelevant.
He began his career performing doo-wop pop tunes in the early 1960s under the name Little Richie Marsh. After changing his name to Sky Saxon, he formed the Electra-Fires in 1962 and then Sky Saxon & the Soul Rockers. In 1965, Saxon founded the psychedelic flower power band The Seeds with Jan Savage (guitar), Rick Andridge (keyboards) and Darryl Hooper (drums). Hit songs for Saxon and the Seeds included "Can't Seem to Make You Mine" and "Pushin' Too Hard," which became a top 40 song in 1967.