Young grew up in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He attended Rabbi Jacob Joseph School, Seward Park High School and the City University of New York (CUNY), where he majored in sociology and psychology.
He was a singer and songwriter in the 1960s, recording under his own name, and as The Squirrels, San Francisco Earthquakes, and more. He wrote songs for The Drifters, Herman's Hermits, The Searchers, Ben E. King, The Shirelles, Ronnie Dove, The Seekers and many others.
He wrote and produced over 25 chart records in his career. His songs included many top ten hits, including Grammy Hall of Fame song "Under the Boardwalk","Captain of Your Ship", "Arizona" and the Grammy Award winning song, "Ai No Corrida", "S-s-single Bed", "Just one more night", Only you can, among them.
His productions included a series of albums — Rhythms Del Mundo featuring: Coldplay-"Clocks" & Viva La Vida", Bob Dylan- "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall", Green Day-'I fought the law", "Amy Winehouse-"Cupid", Beyonce'- "Miss You", The Gorillaz-"Feelgood Inc.", The Arctic Monkeys-"Dancing Shoes", Ibrahim Ferrer-"As Time Goes By", Sting-"Fragile", Wyclef Jean-"Stayin Alive", Dizzee Rascal-"Holiday", KT Tunstall-"Because the Night" and others.
Young formed two hit UK bands, Fox and Yellow Dog with whom he played, wrote and produced their top ten hits. In 1974 he formed Fox, a band featuring Noosha . The band broke up in 1977. Fox had three top 10 hits in the UK and other European countries. Young's other bands were Gentlemen Without Weapons (with co-producers Vic Coppersmith-Heaven and Nick Glennie-Smith), 39 Vybes, and Rhythms del Mundo whose albums have gone platinum and gold in many countries.
Young has been concerned about environmental issues for many years and in the 1980s co-founded the rainforest conservation organization, Earth Love Fund, with colleagues Vic Coppersmith-Heaven and Nick Glennie-Smith. Kenny was recipient of the United Nations Global 500 Award for outstanding practical achievements in the protection and improvement of the environment for his work as co-founder and trustee of the Earth Love Fund, which supported and initiated over 200 community based projects in Brazil, Africa, Asia and Australia.
In 2005 he founded Artists Project Earth (APE), which raises awareness and funds for climate change projects and for natural disaster relief. Since 2006 APE has funded and supported over 350 projects around the world.
He co-produced the Hollywood Genesis Award-winning film Spirit of the Forest, a BBC-TV documentary about the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.
He co-produced the album Earthrise, which was No. 1 in the UK and released worldwide, featuring U2, Paul McCartney, Sting, Pink Floyd, Elton John, Paul Simon, R.E.M., Peter Gabriel, Queen, Seal and many others for ELF's conservation projects for the world's rainforests. He wrote and co-produced the song "Spirit of the Forest," which was a benefit record released by Richard Branson's Virgin Records and featured over 50 major international artists including Joni Mitchell, Ringo Starr, Lenny Kravitz, LL Cool J, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, The Ramones, Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry, Gilberto Gil, Jungle Brothers and Afrika Bambaataa. He wrote and co-produced and performed on album Transmissions by Gentlemen Without Weapons on A&M Records. The band used only digital samples of nature for the music. A unique album, with a video produced by Pink Floyd's art director Storm Thorgerson, who also designed the album cover.
Most recently he produced the series of albums Rhythms del Mundo with musicians from Buena Vista Social Club and featured Coldplay, Radiohead, U2, Arctic Monkeys, Sting, Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs, Dido Ibrahim Ferrer, Omara Portuondo and other top international artists. This was followed up by the second album Rhythms Del Mundo - Classics featuring collaborations between top Cuban musicians with The Killers, Amy Winehouse, The Rolling Stones, Jack Johnson and many others. Followed up by Rhythms Del Mundo - Revival featuring: Bob Dylan, Green Day, Coldplay, Dizzee Rascal, The most recent production was Rhythms Del Mundo - Africa featuring Coldplay, Beyonce', Eminem, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mumford & Sons, Rokia Traore' The proceeds from the album benefits the environmental non-profit organization Artists Project Earth, which raises awareness and funds for climate change projects and for natural disaster relief efforts.