Billy Ray Cyrus Biography

William Ray Cyrus, 25 August 1961, Flatwoods, Kentucky, USA. Cyrus comes from a preaching family and made his singing debut in his father’s gospel group. In 1983, he formed his own band, Sly Dog, but they lost their equipment in a fire in Los Angeles. He then worked as a car salesman, but he kept visiting Nashville in the hope of finding musical success. In 1992, he turned the Marcy Brothers’ ‘Don’t Tell My Heart’ into the simple but immensely catchy ‘Achy Breaky Heart’. Although the Cyrus virus proved infectious, the song’s rhythms were close to Don Williams’ ‘Tulsa Time’. The video, in which the muscular, ponytailed Cyrus was mobbed by adoring women, also introduced a country music dance - the Achy Breaky, a variant of the traditional line dance. The song topped the US country chart and was easily the most successful country single released in the UK during 1992. Another star, Travis Tritt, derided Cyrus for turning country music into ‘an asswiggling contest’.

Cyprus’ debut album, Some Gave All, topped the US pop and country charts, while he had a further transatlantic hit, ‘Could’ve Been Me’, and recorded a parody of ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ with the Chipmunks. It Won’t Be The Last (1993) also topped the US country charts but its sales were dwarfed by the multi-platinum success of its predecessor. Storm In The Heartland (1994), featuring guest appearances from the Oak Ridge Boys and Danny Shirley of Confederate Railroad, and subsequent releases Trail Of Tears (1996) and Shot Full Of Love (1998) attempted to move Cyrus away from his lightweight image. He was more successful with Southern Rain (2000), his debut for Sony’s reactivated Monument imprint. Unfortunately with the proliferation of line-dancing clubs at the end of the 90s, it appeared as though Cyrus was going to remain indelibly associated with the Achy Breaky.

In the early 00s Cyrus made a considerable impact as an actor in the USA television soaps Doc and Hannah Montana. He also landed roles in movies including Radical Jack (2000) and Mullholland Dr. (2001) and, in 2003, recorded an album of gospel music (The Other Side). In a surprise move, Cyrus signed a new recording contract with the Walt Disney Records label and enjoyed his first country Top 5 position for over 10 years with the 2007 release Home At Last. Whatever happens, his Mel Gibson looks and Chippendale body should always work to his advantage.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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