The Kentucky Headhunters will perform in Clear Spring

August 03, 2011|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE |
  • The Kentucky Headhunters  from left, Richard Young, Fred Young, Doug Phelps and Greg Martin  have performed their version of country-rock for more than 40 years.
Submitted photo

CLEAR SPRING — Richard Young, founding member of the Kentucky Headhunters, was taking a quick stop Monday afternoon at a cigar shop while on his way back to his hometown of Edmonton, Ky.

The Headhunters just came back from touring Canada — making a stop at home before going back on the road again.

The Kentucky Headhunters will perform at 7 and 9 tonight at the Clear Spring Volunteer Co. Carnival. The concert is free.

Young said on this morning he was making his way back to the Headhunters’ famous Practice House, an old farmhouse given to him and his brother, Fred, by their grandmother when they were in their teens.

Plastered inside are pictures of the group over the years and old concert posters, Young said, and it was within the Practice House’s walls where the Headhunters were born. It’s also the place where the group put together its first all-original album since 2003.

Young said last summer the group was touring with alt-country musician Jamey Johnson and his band.

“They kept on gouging us all summer saying ‘Man, you guys got to put together a new album so we have some new music to listen to,’” he said with a laugh.

Young said he wasn’t sure why it took the Headhunters so long.
“We didn’t put one together because it was like the hour wasn’t right or somethin’,” Young admits.

The result was “Dixie Lullabies,” which will be released on Oct. 18. Young said the band started writing music last October and two days after Christmas, they moved into the Practice House while snow and ice pelted the house without heat.

“It was like 27 degrees by the time we cut the last song in the house,” he said.

Just another story for the Practice House.

Young and brother Fred first started playing as The Itchy Brothers in 1968 and the band met with some success. Over the years The Itchy Brothers picked up more members, developed their more-rock-a-little-country sound and became the Kentucky Headhunters by 1986.

Their first album as the Headhunters, “Pickin’ on Nashville” blew up the charts in 1989, with such songs as “Dumas Walker” and “Walk Softly on This Heart of Mine.” With their rock-edge, the Headhunters found their videos being played on MTV. And they managed to nab a Grammy in 1990 for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group for that first album.

It might have been a while since the Kentucky Headhunters have topped the charts, but other than the occasional lineup change the group is nowhere near being a “Behind the Music” episode.

They’re all around the age of 55. All of them have milestone marriages. They’ve raised families. They’ve managed to stay away from drugs. And they’re still performing.

Today, the band continues to perform 70 to 80 gigs a year that Young said they handpick.

This year marks a new album for another Young. Richard Young’s son, John Fred Young, is part of the rock band Black Stone Cherry, which recently performed in Frederick, Md. Black Stone Cherry released their album, “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea,” in May.

Richard Young said his parents always supported him and his brother in their music. He’s done the same for his son and Black Stone Cherry, helping to produce the band’s first album, serving as co-manager and giving advice.

One thing his son might be able to learn is longevity in the music business.

“Anybody that is able to keep a band together for 43 years, you need to have some kind of salt to you. Not in a bad way,” Young said with a laugh. “It’s almost like second nature to us at this point. When we hit hard, we were all in our mid-30s. We weren’t kids.”

If you go ...

WHAT: Kentucky Headhunters at Clear Spring Volunteer Co. Carnival

WHEN: 7 and 9 Thursday, Aug. 4

WHERE: Clear Spring carnival grounds, off Big Spring Road, Clear Spring

COST: Free

MORE: For more information about the Kentucky Headhunters, go to

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