On the road: Kentucky Headhunters

Country rock icons finally making it to British soil

On the road Kentucky Headhunters

They've been together for the best part of 50 years but this summer the Kentucky Headhunters finally make their European bow.

Lead Headhunter Richard Young tells TG that his fear of flying has put the brakes on the band venturing outside of the US until now. But, the persistence of Southern rock titans Black Stone Cherry (a band featuring Richard's son John Fred on drums) has finally led them to these shores for seven UK shows.

John Fred and the Black Stone Cherry boys were always saying we need to get over to Europe... it's put up or shut up

"John Fred and the boys were always saying we need to get over there," Richard says. "They came home from their last arena tour and said, 'The jig is up. It's put up or shut up, we're reaching out to Live Nation and asking them to put on some dates for you.'

"The next day they called and they had us on Sweden Rocks and I thought, 'Oh god, now I need to do this.' The day after that they had us on Ramblin' Man festival and I thought, 'Oh god, now I've got to go twice!'"

The country rock heroes might make it to the UK, but alas, their guitars will not.

"It will be the first time we aren't playing with our 50s guitars, I just can't bring Danny over," Richard says. "I can't bear the thought of anything happening to Danny." Danny, it transpires is Richard's 1952 Tele.

"I paid $2,800 for it in 1990," he explains. "Danny Gatton was on the road with us and said, 'That guitar is special, but I can make it like the devil.' He took it to his workbench and I don't know what he did to it, but I must have played 120 other '52 Teles and none of them sound like this one, so I call it Danny."

Back in the van

While in the US, hits such as Dumas Walker and Walk Softly On This Heart Of Mine have afforded the Headhunters a degree of comfort on the road, they will have no such luxuries when embarking on their European shows.

"The other big question aside from flying is that we're playing eight straight shows, that's going to be pretty trying for us 60-year-olds," laughs Richard. "We're spoiled in the US, in Europe we're roughing it in a van, a far cry from a tour bus… but this way we'll see all of that UK countryside."

Approaching bus pass age they may well be, but Richard is adamant that the Headhunters, who also have a new album in the works, will be bringing an electric live show across the pond.

"We're going to come on like Gangbusters," he says. "We feel like we've got something to prove to the UK audience. We're a live band and we're going to show people that."

Kentucky Headhunters' UK tour begins at the Borderline in London on 20 July.

Don't Miss

10 questions for The Kentucky Headhunters' Greg Martin

Fred and John Fred Young's top 5 tips for drummers

Stay up to date with the latest gear and tuition.
Subscribe and save today.