For Richard Young, guitarist and vocalist for the Kentucky Headhunters, music and family are inseparable.
The band began when he, his brother Fred Young and their cousins Anthony Kenney and Greg Martin began playing music together in an old house on the family farm that their grandmother let them use.
“I guess it was kind of foresight on her part to keep us out of trouble,” Richard said.
When each of the boys got their driver’s licenses, their first drive was always to that farmhouse, which most people called a shack.
They covered it with posters and album covers of their favorite rock groups, including Led Zeppelin.
“The posters on the wall are worth more than the house is,” Richard said.
His father, a teacher, always supported his son’s dream of being a musician.
“He never said, ‘Cut your hair, get a job,’” Richard said.
They called the group Itchy Brother.
During the next few decades, the band morphed into the Kentucky Headhunters, lost and gained members, won a Grammy, played more than 1,000 shows and sold more than 6 million albums.
The members married women they had known since high school. They have stayed married to the same women for their whole lives. Richard will celebrate his 30th anniversary in August.
In 1989, the group released “Pickin’ On Nashville,” which sold more than 2 million copies.
The band members developed close relationships by making music together for so long.
“These people are almost like spouses,” Richard said.
They make music part of their lifestyle.
“We get up every morning, drink coffee and listen to music,” he said.
Richard’s family still owns the farm where he grew up and began playing music. He said one evening a few years ago, the band played in Times Square; 24 hours later, he was back in Kentucky, beating hay on a tractor.
“We’ve lived a charmed life,” he said. “Don’t guess we’d change anything about it, really.”
Young’s son started a band, Black Stone Cherry, that practiced in the same old house and has a large following in Europe.
“It’s just a big family thing,” Richard said.
His son once told him, “Dad, the funniest thing is when we play in, like, London and places like Berlin; you see ’em coming up after the show at the back door with the bus, these old guys with gray hair and Headhunters shirts on.”
Richard said the Headhunters’ live shows present a heavier side of the band than their records. He described the group as a party band and said they have a huge following of bikers.
“If you want to see a good Headhunters show, sit in a lawn chair and relax,” he said. “And if you want to see a great Headhunters show, get up and get involved.”
The band — Greg Martin, Doug Phelps, Fred Young and Richard Young — will perform Aug. 1 at Smoke on the Water.