Last summer, at the behest of Black Stone Cherry, Kentucky Headhunters toured Europe for the very first time. Rhythm guitarist/singer Richard Young, father of BSC’s John Fred, previews a second visit from the southern rock band.
After the tour was a success, did the Black Stone Cherry lads say: “We told you so”?
Oh, we heard that a thousand times [laughs]. Getting to see my son’s band headline the Ramblin’ Man Fair and for the Headhunters to play with them there was a real shot in the arm for us, too.
By that point the Headhunters had existed in one form or another for forty-eight years, and you were sixty. Did you have to pinch yourself?
I sure did. My problem was a fear of flying, but I got over that. But looking back on it now, had we made the journey earlier, it probably wouldn’t have been as fulfilling or life-enriching. That’s why we’re coming back on our own, without Black Stone Cherry to lean on, and that’s very exciting.
Kentucky Headhunters’ current album, On Safari, was recorded in just three days following the death of your father. You’ve suggested that a “higher spirit” was at work.
There’s no doubt about it. Losing my dad was such a shock to myself and my brother Fred [drummer with the Headhunters] because he was the patriarch of the family. Making the record was a healing process, and for the whole band it felt as though he was there looking over our shoulders.
A vinyl edition of On Safari will be available for these dates.
Yeah, that’s gonna be great. Waiting for vinyl to be manufactured is like waiting for a baby to arrive. We’re so happy that people love vinyl again.
Will we be hearing a lot of the songs on On Safari on this tour?
Oh, absolutely. We’ll probably do at least four of those songs. But after so many albums, it’s tough to squeeze it all in. We have album cuts that are as popular as our hits. That’s a great problem to have, but it brings a certain pressure.
And you’re not really a band for sticking to set-lists, are you?
[Laughs] No sir. We stopped using a song-list fifteen years ago. There are four or five favourites that must be played, but we let the audience pick the set. After so many years we can almost read their minds.
Kentucky Headhunters are among southern rock’s last men standing. Taking Black Stone Cherry out of the equation, do you fear for the genre’s long‑term future?
Naaaw. We can never go back to 1971 and the days of the Allman Brothers and Wet Willie, but a whole bunch of young people still like that music, and if they’re nineteen now, they’ll still be listening to it when they’re sixty.
The tour begins in Bilston on October 2.