Born December 12, 1936, in Caruthersville, Missouri, Young's first band was Eddie Bond & the Stompers, a rockabilly band from Memphis, Tennessee, that toured with Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Roy Orbison during the mid '50s. By 1958, Young was with singer Johnny Horton, making several appearances on the popular Louisiana Hayride radio show in Shreveport.
He was an original member of Bill Black's Combo, which had several instrumental hits in the U.S. in 1959 and the early '60s, the most successful being "Smokie, Pts. 1 & 2", "White Silver Sands," and an instrumental version of "Don't Be Cruel," released on Hi Records. Billboard Magazine listed the Combo as the No. 1 instrumental band three years in a row, 1960–1962.
In February 1964, the Beatles requested that the Bill Black Combo open for them during their first U.S. tour. Subsequently, they invited the Combo over to England for another month-long tour. After the death of leader Bill Black (Elvis Presley's original bass player) in October 1965, Young concentrated on being a staff musician at Hi Studio in Memphis until 1967, winding up at American Studios at the request of Chips Moman later that year.
The Memphis Boys were responsible for around 120 hit singles, pop, country, rock, or soul, between 1967 and 1971. Young played on the January/February 1969 Elvis Presley sessions that included "Suspicious Minds", "Kentucky Rain", "Don't Cry Daddy", and "In the Ghetto". When the studio closed in late 1971, Young moved to Nashville as an independent session player. He took part in the July 1973 Presley sessions at Stax Studios in Memphis which produced the albums Raised On Rock and Good Times.
After playing on the sessions for the Highwaymen (Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson) in 1984, Young joined their touring show for a five-year stretch (1990–1995). Young also played many sessions and concerts with Waylon Jennings, including his final tours featuring the Waymore Blues Band before Jennings' death in 2002.
Young has been nominated for a Grammy, also performing at the Kennedy Center in honor of Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. 2008 saw the Country Music Hall of Fame recognizing Young as a "Nashville Cat". That same year also saw the debut of Young's first solo album, the independently released, inspirational Be Still, a collaboration with wife and cellist Jenny Lynn Young.
August 2009 saw the Memphis Boys, along with Chips Moman, receive acknowledgement by the Memphis Grammy Chapter for their pioneering work on "Suspicious Minds" during a Graceland fan reception. After almost 45 years of playing together, this was their first award.
Young participates in occasional Elvis-themed concerts in Europe and the USA with other musicians who once shared a stage with Presley, including the "Back In Memphis" concert held at the University of Memphis on August 12, 2010.
In 2010 Young participated in a tribute album/DVD project spotlighting the songs of Waylon Jennings, featuring diverse artists such as Vince Gill and Sheryl Crow, to be released in spring 2011. A studio session with the Blind Boys of Alabama has been recorded for a presumed release of early next year.
Young met his wife, the classically trained cellist Jenny Lynn Hollowell, in 1999, during the formation of Waylon Jennings' Waymore Blues Band. They married in 2004. They currently reside in Leipers Fork in middle Tennessee, where Young spends much of his time composing in his home studio.The Box Tops - "The Letter", "Cry Like a Baby"(sitar)
J.J. Cale - "Cajun Moon" and "Cocaine"
Neil Diamond - "Sweet Caroline"
Dobie Gray - "Drift Away"
The Highwaymen - "Highwayman" and "Desperados Waiting for a Train"
Herbie Mann - Memphis Underground, Reggae II
Willie Nelson - "Always On My Mind"
Danny O'Keefe - "Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues"
Sandy Posey - Born a Woman and Single Girl
Elvis Presley - "Suspicious Minds," "Kentucky Rain," "In the Ghetto," "Don't Cry Daddy," and "I've Got A Thing About You Baby"
Billy Joe Royal - "Down in the Boondocks"
Dusty Springfield - the Dusty in Memphis album, featuring the hit song "Son of a Preacher Man"
Billy Swan - "I Can Help"
B.J. Thomas - "Hooked On A Feeling"(sitar), "Hey, Won't You Play Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song"
Young is mentioned in the Jimmy Buffett song "God's Own Drunk".