American country singer, b. 1961
William Ray Cyrus was born in Flatwoods, Kentucky on August 25, 1961. He grew up with the dream of becoming a professional baseball player. He was on his way to achieving this goal, enrolling in Georgetown College with a full scholarship. While in college, he bought his first guitar, and ultimately decided to shift his focus to music.
He formed a band named Sly Dog and performed in a club in Ironton, Ohio on a weekly basis until 1984, when a fire destroyed the bar and the band's equipment. After the fire, Cyrus moved to Los Angeles, but then returned to Kentucky. He regularly visited Nashville in an attempt to land a record deal. Mercury Records signed him in 1990.
His first album, Some Gave All, was released in 1992. The first single from the album, "Achy Breaky Heart" (which was originally recorded by the Marcy Brothers in 1991 as "Don't Tell My Heart"), was a smash, selling over a million copies and topping the Billboard country chart for five weeks. The song crossed over to the pop chart, peaking at #4 on Billboard's Hot 100. The song spawned a dance craze and then, perhaps inevitably, a backlash. He became an object of ridicule for most music fans; many of them dismissed him as a novelty act. Even other country musicians joined in the backlash. Cyrus was slammed by fellow country performer Travis Tritt for turning country music into an "ass-wiggling contest."
In spite of the backlash, Some Gave All sold over nine million copies and spent seventeen weeks at the top of Billboard's album chart. The album spawned two additional country hits, "Could've Been Me" and "She's Not Cryin' Anymore", both of which also made the lower portion of Billboard's Hot 100.
His second album, It Won't Be The Last (1993), was not nearly as successful as Some Gave All, but it still did well, peaking at #3 on Billboard's Album chart and selling over a million copies. The first single from this album, "In The Heart Of A Woman" was a hit on the country chart and even reached #76 on the Hot 100. "Somebody New" also made the country chart, but barely missed the Hot 100.
He released his third album, Storm In The Heartland in 1994. Though it was largely ignored by country radio, it still sold over 500,000 copies. He tried to change his lightweight image with the 1996 album Trail Of Tears, but the album bombed, barely making a dent in the album charts. The next year, The Best Of Billy Ray Cyrus: Cover To Cover was released. The album consisted mostly of his previous hits. One of the new songs on this compilation, "It's All The Same To Me" was a country hit.
In 1998, Shot Full Of Love was released. A single from this album, "Busy Man", became his biggest hit in years, becoming a top 10 country hit and even returning Cyrus to the upper half of the pop chart (the song peaked at #46 on the Hot 100). After this album, he signed with Sony, and released Southern Rain in 2000 under Sony's Monument label.
He can now be seen in the PAX television series Doc. And, yes, he still has his trademark mullet.
His daughter, Miley Cyrus, has largely surpassed his fame.
Discography (through 2000):
- Some Gave All, 1992
- It Won't Be The Last, 1993
- Storm In The Heartland, 1994
- Trail Of Tears, 1996
- The Best Of Billy Ray Cyrus: Cover To Cover, 1997
- Shot Full Of Love, 1998
- Southern Rain, 2000