The Kentucky Headhunters created a hybrid of honky tonk, blues, and Southern rock that appealed to fans of both rock and country music. While they were only officially together for a few albums, the band nevertheless left a long shadow.
The origins of the Kentucky Headhunters lie in 1968, when Fred and Richard Young began playing together with their cousins Greg Martin and Anthony Kenney at the Youngs' grandmother's home. Mark Orr also later joined them. The first incarnation of the band was called the Itchy Brothers, and the group played together informally for over a decade. After about 13 years, the bandmembers began launching separate careers: Richard Young went off to write songs for Acuff-Rose, while Fred Young began touring with country beauty Sylvia. Martin became a member of Ronnie McDowell's band, while Kenney dropped out of music. In 1985, Martin decided to reassemble the Itchy Brothers. When Kenney declined to rejoin the group, Martin remembered Doug Phelps, who he had met while on tour with McDowell. Phelps joined the new project, which was named the Kentucky Headhunters. Besides Martin and Phelps, the band also included the Young brothers and Doug's brother Ricky Lee Phelps.