William “Billy” Ray Cyrus (born August 25, 1961) is an American country music singer, songwriter and actor, who helped make country music a worldwide phenomenon. He has released eleven studio albums since 1992, released 38 singles, best known for his Number One single “Achy Breaky Heart” that became the first single ever to achieve triple Platinum status in Australia and the 1992’s best selling single in the same country. Thanks to the video of this hit, there was the explosion of the linedance into the mainstream, becoming a worldwide craze. Cyrus, a multi-platinum selling recording artist, has scored a total of eight top-ten singles on the Billboard Country Songs chart. His most successful album to date is the debut of Some Gave All, which has been certified 9× Multi-Platinum in the United States and is the longest time spent by a debut artist at Number One on the Billboard 200 (17 consecutive weeks) and most consecutive chart-topping weeks in the SoundScan era. It’s the only album (from any genre) in the SoundScan era to log 17 consecutive weeks at Number One and is also the top-ranking debut album by a male country artist. It ranked 43 weeks in the top 10, a total topped by only one country album in history, Ropin’ The Wind by Garth Brooks. Some Gave All was also the first debut album to enter at the number 1 in the Billboard Country Albums. The album has also sold more than 20 million copies worldwide and is the Best selling debut album of all time for a solo male artist. Some Gave All was also the best selling album of the 1992 in the US with 4,832,000 copies. In his career, he has released 29 charted singles, of which 15 charted in the Top 40.
From 2001 to 2004, Cyrus starred in the television show Doc. The show was about a country doctor who moved from Montana to New York City. In late 2005, he also began to co-star in the Disney Channel series Hannah Montana with his daughter Miley Cyrus. The show is currently in its fourth season.
In 2010, it was announced that he and his son Trace Cyrus would take part in a new Syfy reality series called UFO: Unbelievably Freakin’ Obvious.
William Ray Cyrus was born in Flatwoods, Kentucky to Ron Cyrus, a politician, and his wife, the former Ruth Ann Casto. His grandfather was a Pentecostal preacher. Growing up, he was surrounded by bluegrass and gospel music from his family. His father, a right-handed man, played guitar. Billy Ray, on the other hand, was left-handed. He tried to play his father’s guitar, but could never learn. Cyrus attended Georgetown College on a baseball scholarship before switching his focus to music. During the 1980s, Cyrus played in the bar band Sly Dog before getting a record deal with Mercury Nashville Records.
The Mercury Records years
While trying to get a recording contract in Los Angeles, Cyrus was referred to as “too country” for LA, and “too rock” for Nashville. However, in 1990, he was signed to PolyGram/Mercury. Cyrus began to record and write music for his debut album, released in 1992.
Some Gave All was released in 1992. The album became an instant chart and sales successor. It debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums, Billboard 200, Canadian Country Albums chart, Canadian Albums Chart, and several other foreign countries. The album featured four consecutive Top 40 singles on the Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart from 1992 to 1993; including an album cut, the title track. The most successful single released was “Achy Breaky Heart”. It reached #1 on the Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart and was also a hit on the pop charts, where it reached #4. Although the song was the only number one single, “Could’ve Been Me” reached #2, “Wher’m I Gonna Live?” reached #23, and “She’s Not Cryin’ Anymore” reached #6.
Some Gave All was certified 9× Multi-Platinum in the United States in 1996, and has sold over 20 million copies worldwide.
In 1993, Cyrus and Mercury Records quickly released Cyrus’ second studio album, It Won’t Be the Last. The album featured four singles, however, only three made the Top 40. The album debuted at #1 on the Country charts, and #3 on the Billboard 200. By the end of the year, It Won’t Be the Last was certified Platinum by the RIAA. The highest charting single, the lead-off single, “In the Heart of a Woman”, charted to #3, with “Somebody New” charting to #9, “Words By Heart” at #12, and “Talk Some” at #63.
Cyrus’ third studio album, Storm in the Heartland, was released in 1994. The album was his final album he recorded for PolyGram, as they closed their doors in 1995. The album wasn’t as successful as its preceders. It only reached #11 on the Country albums chart, and only the title track made the Top 40 of the Country singles chart. “Deja Blue” was the second single released, however, it only managed to chart to #66, and the third and final single, “One Last Thrill”, failed to chart at all.
The album only managed to be certified Gold in the U.S. Before Cyrus started on his next album, he was transferred to Mercury Nashville.
Also in 1994, Cyrus contributed the song “Pictures Don’t Lie” to the AIDS benefit album Red Hot + Country produced by the Red Hot Organization.
Billy Ray Cyrus singing at the Spirit of America tour.
Cyrus’ most critically acclaimed album was 1996’s, Trail of Tears on Mercury Records. The album debuted at #20 on the Country chart when released. Only two songs made the cut to radio, although neither one hit the Top 60. The title track and “Three Little Words” were released reaching #69, and #65 respectively. The album failed to reach any certification, and was on and off the charts after only four weeks.
Mercury Nashville released Shot Full of Love in 1998. The album became his lowest-peaking album, debuting at #32. The first single, “Under the Hood”, failed to chart, “Time for Letting Go” hit #70, “Busy Man” charted #3, and “I Give My Heart to You” reached #41. After the single fell from the charts, Cyrus left Mercury’s roster and signed with Monument Records in 1999.
His debut album for Monument, Southern Rain, was released in 2000. It debuted at #13 on the Country albums chart and #102 on the Billboard 200. Five singles were released and all five charted. The lead-off single, “You Won’t Be Lonely Now”, was the highest peaking single from the album, charting to #17. Other singles include “We the People” (#60), “Burn Down the Trailer Park” (#43), “Crazy ‘Bout You Baby” (#58), and the title track (#45).
Move to Christian music
After the singles from Southern Rain finished their chart runs, Cyrus began to record two Christian albums. Both albums, Time Flies and The Other Side, were released in 2003. The first album debuted and peaked at a low #56 on the Country album charts. Three singles were released, however, only the final single charted. “Bread Alone”, “What Else Is There”, and “Back to Memphis” were released, where “Back to Memphis” charted to #60.
The second Christian album, The Other Side, was recorded while Cyrus filmed his PAX series, Doc. It debuted at #5 on the Top Christian Albums chart, #18 Top Country Albums, and #131 on Billboard 200. Two of three singles charted, “Face of God” (#54) and “The Other Side” (#45), while “Always Sixteen” failed to chart at all.
Billy Ray Cyrus singing at the Kids Inaugural Event on January 19, 2009.
The album Wanna Be Your Joe was Billy Ray’s first country album since 2000s Southern Rain. As with its preceding albums, it too, was recorded on a new record label: New Door/UMe Records. It was released while Cyrus was filming the show Hannah Montana. Wanna Be Your Joe made it to #24 on the Country charts and #113 on the all-genre charts. The album initially sold well, but no hit-single was released. The title track was released as the first single, and was followed by “I Want My Mullet Back”, both of which were ignored by country radio. Although not released as a single, a music video was made for the track “Stand”, a duet with daughter Miley Cyrus.
Also in 2006, Billy Ray appeared with metal-rock group Metal Skool (now Steel Panther), and performed several songs including “Rebel Yell” by Billy Idol, and the song “I Want My Mullet Back”, which appears on Wanna Be Your Joe.
He also sang “The Star Spangled Banner” at Game 5 of the 2006 World Series in St. Louis, Missouri.
In mid-2007, Cyrus was a celebrity contestant on the 4th season of the show Dancing with the Stars. Cyrus was partnered with Karina Smirnoff. As the show began to air, Cyrus was instantly a fan favorite. Cyrus and Smirnoff made it to the semi-finals where they finished in 5th place.
From his exposure on Dancing with the Stars and Hannah Montana, his record label pushed up the release date a month in advance of his new album. Home at Last was released in July 2007 on Walt Disney Records. It debuted at #3 on the country charts, making it Cyrus’ first Top 5 entry since It Won’t Be the Last debuted at #1 in 1993. Beginning sales for the album were very strong, however, the album failed to be certified. The single, “Ready, Set, Don’t Go”, was initially released as a solo single. The solo version made it to #33 on the Hot Country Songs chart.
In October 2007, Cyrus and daughter Miley Cyrus, performed a duet version of the song on Dancing with the Stars. The duet of the song debuted at #27 on the Country charts and eventually peaked at #4 in 2008; giving Billy Ray his first Top 5 single since “Busy Man” in 1999, as well as Miley’s first Top 5 on any Billboard chart.
Cyrus was a part of the Disney collection, Country Sings Disney in 2008. Two of his songs, “Ready, Set, Don’t Go” and the Sheryl Crow penned song, “Real Gone” appeared on the album. Billy Ray’s version of “Real Gone” was also made into a music video that is in rotation on both CMT and GAC; the song also appears on Back to Tennessee.
New label and newfound chart success
In late-2008, his website confirmed that a new studio album would be released by the end of the year from Lyric Street Records, entitled Back to Tennessee. The album was originally planned to be released on October 21, 2008, but was pushed back to November 18. When the album wasn’t released, it was announced for a January 13, 2009 release. The first single, “Somebody Said a Prayer”, debuted at #53 in August 2008 and reached #33 in November of that year. On March 14, 2009, the albums title track debuted at #59 on the country singles chart and a month later on April 7, Back to Tennessee was released. The song only charted to #47 after 11 weeks. A third single, “A Good Day”, debuted at #60 on the country charts for the chart week of September 5, 2009.
It was less successful in its first week out as Home at Last. It only reached #13 on the charts and only sold approximately 14,000 copies in its opening week. The albums release date coincided with the release of Hannah Montana: The Movie. The song “Back to Tennessee” was included on the movies soundtrack, as well as a duet with Miley Cyrus, entitled “Butterfly Fly Away”. The latter song would peak at #56 on the Billboard Hot 100 and at #50 and Canadian Hot 100.
On November 12, 2008, Billy Ray and Miley presented the “Song of the Year” award at the 42nd Annual Country Music Association Awards. Prior to the award show, both Billy Ray and Miley performed on Good Morning America. In December 2008, Cyrus made a cameo in Metro Station’s video, “Seventeen Forever”.
Shortly after the chart debut of Back to Tennessee’s third single, “A Good Day”, Cyrus and Lyric Street Records parted ways after only one album.
Cyrus, Phil Vassar, Jeffrey Steele and John Waite then formed a new supergroup together in early 2009 called Brother Clyde. On Twitter, Cyrus confirmed the supergroup, saying they just cut the first single from the new album, Lately.
On June 30, 2010. Cyrus released on his Facebook information about the new alternative rock group, Brother Clyde, with the old members sobstitued by Samantha Maloney, Jamie Miller, Dan Knight and Dave Henning. He also stated that their single, Lately, was available on iTunes and that their debut album would be out on August 10, 2010. Brother Clyde has a page on myspace.
After Brother Clyde project, he will return to the country music with a patriotic album produced by Buddy Cannon called American, that contains a duet with Willie Nelson and will be released in November.
Dancing with the Stars performances
Cyrus was partnered with Karina Smirnoff in the fourth season of Dancing with the Stars. They were eliminated in the eighth week. The judges scores from left to right are from Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli.
Week Dance; Song – Artist Judge’s scores Result
Inaba Goodman Tonioli
1 Cha-Cha-Cha; “I Want My Mullet Back” – Billy Ray Cyrus 5 4 4 Safe
2 Quickstep; “Ring of Fire” – Johnny Cash 7 7 7 Safe
3 Tango; “Rock the Casbah” – The Clash 7 7 7 Safe
4 Paso Doble; “Black Betty” – Ram Jam 7 7 7 Safe
5 Rumba; “What’s Love Got to Do with It” – Tina Turner 6 6 5 Safe
6 Jive; “I Love to Boogie” – T. Rex 7 7 7 Safe
7 Waltz; “Play Me” – Neil Diamond 5 6 6 Safe
Samba; “Living in America” – James Brown 7 7 7 Safe
8 Foxtrot; “Stand By Your Man” – Tammy Wynette 7 6 5 Eliminated
Mambo; “My Way” – Los Lonely Boys 6 7 7
Cyrus starred in the 1999 independent film Radical Jack. He also had a small part in David Lynch’s 2001 film Mulholland Drive as Gene, a pool cleaner who had been having an affair with the wife of Adam Kesher (Justin Theroux). In 2001, Cyrus played the lead role on the PAX (now ION Television) comedy-drama Doc, which became the network’s highest-rated show. In 2005, Cyrus expanded his acting career in a stage production of Annie Get Your Gun in Toronto, appearing in the role of Frank Butler.
Cyrus’ television credits include The Nanny, Diagnosis Murder, Love Boat, The Next Wave, and TNN’s 18 Wheels Of Justice. In 2004, he guest-starred as a limo driver in the episode “The Power of Love” of the Canadian teen drama Degrassi: The Next Generation. Cyrus has also been the subject of many television specials that detail his rise to fame and his career. These include two ABC documentaries, Billy Ray Cyrus: Dreams Come True and Billy Ray Cyrus: A Year on the Road, a VH1 exclusive, as well as the TNN specials I Give My Heart To You, and The Life and Times of Billy Ray Cyrus. In late 2005, Cyrus and his daughter Miley Cyrus began co-starring in the Disney Channel original television series, Hannah Montana, which premiered on March 24, 2006.
In March 2007, Cyrus joined several other celebrities to take part in the fourth season of the US version of Dancing with the Stars. He and his partner Karina Smirnoff, were eliminated in the eighth week (May 8, 2007) after having also placed in the “bottom two” the week before.
Cyrus also starred in Jackie Chan’s movie The Spy Next Door. It was shot in Albuquerque, New Mexico and released in January 2010.
Cyrus sits on the advisory board of the Parents Television Council.
From 1986 to 1991, Cyrus was married to Cindy Smith, with whom he co-wrote the songs “Wher’m I Gonna Live?” and “Some Gave All”, both of which were featured on his 1992 debut album Some Gave All.
On December 28, 1992, he married Leticia “Tish” Cyrus, née Finley. Together they have three children: daughters Miley Ray (born Destiny Hope in 1992) and Noah Lindsey (born 2000), and son Braison Chance (born 1994). He also has two adopted stepchildren from Finley’s previous marriage, Trace (born 1989), now a singer/guitarist for Metro Station, and Brandi (born 1987), as well as a son, Christopher Cody (born 1992), from a previous relationship with Kristin Luckey, who raised him in South Carolina. Cyrus adopted Brandi and Trace when they were young children. In a 2004 interview on ABC News: Primetime, Cyrus stated that daughter Miley (conceived with Finley) and son Christopher (conceived with Luckey) were born in 1992, at which time Cyrus was unmarried, and that his marriage to Finley at the end of that year was secret and against his record company’s advice.
The family lived on a 500-acre (2.0 km2) farm in Thompson’s Station, outside of Nashville, Tennessee before moving to Los Angeles for the filming of Hannah Montana. Cyrus’ other daughter Brandi had a role in a Hannah Montana episode “Yet Another Side of Me” as Customer #1 and in the season 4 episode “Been Here All Along” as the Guitarist during the military tribute.
On October 26, 2010, Cyrus filed for divorce from his wife in Tennessee, citing irreconcilable differences. In a statement made to People the next day announcing the split, the couple said, “As you can imagine, this is a very difficult time for our family… We are trying to work through some personal matters. We appreciate your thoughts and prayers.”
Awards and nominations
Year Association Result
1992 CMA Awards Single of the Year – “Achy Breaky Heart” Won
Music Video of the Year – “Achy Breaky Heart” Nominated
Billboard Music Awards Most weeks at #1 Album, Some Gave All Won
Billboard Video Music Awards Best Male Artist, Country, “Achy Breaky Heart” Won
Best New Artist, Country, “Achy Breaky Heart” Won
AMOA Jukebox Awards Pop Record of the Year, “Achy Breaky Heart” Won
Country Record of the Year, “Achy Breaky Heart” Won
Rising Star Award Won
National Association of Recording Merchandisers Record of the Year, New Artist Won
Record of the Year, Country Male Won
Record of the Year, Male Won
Record of the Year, Overall Won
Country Music Television Most Popular Music Video, “Achy Breaky Heart” Won
R&R Readers Pool Best New Artist Won
People Magazine One of the Most Intriguing People of the Year 1992 Won
Country Music Hall of Fame Walkway of Stars Inducted
1993 JUNO Awards Best Selling Album (foreign or domestic), Some Gave All Nominated
Best Selling Single (foreign or domestic), “Achy Breaky Heart” Won
American Music Awards Favorite Country Male Artist Nominated
Favorite Country Album – Some Gave All Nominated
Favorite Country Single – “Achy Breaky Heart” Won
Favorite Country New Artist Won
ACM Awards Album of the Year – Some Gave All Nominated
Entertainer of the Year Nominated
Single Record of the Year – “Achy Breaky Heart” Nominated
Top New Male Vocalist Nominated
World Music Awards Best International New Artist of the Year Won
Country Music Television #6 on Top 10 Video List, “In the Heart of a Woman” Won
Canadian Country Music Awards Best Selling Album (foreign or domestic), Some Gave All Won
Grammy Awards Record of the Year – “Achy Breaky Heart” Nominated
Best New Artist Nominated
Best Country Vocal Performance, Male – “Achy Breaky Heart” Nominated
1994 Billboard 100th Anniversary Awards 16th Best Selling Album of all time, Some Gave All Won
Childhelp USA Humanitarian Award Won
American Music Awards Favorite Country Single – “Romeo” (Dolly Parton with Tanya Tucker,
Billy Ray Cyrus, Kathy Mattea, Pam Tillis and Mary Chapin Carpenter) Nominated
Grammy Awards Best Country Vocal Collaboration – “Romeo” (Dolly Parton with Tanya Tucker,
Billy Ray Cyrus, Kathy Mattea, Pam Tillis and Mary Chapin Carpenter) Nominated
ACM Awards Album of the Year – It Won’t Be the Last Nominated
Top Male Vocalist Nominated
1995 University of California, Berkley Popular Cultural Society’s Innovator Award Won
State of South Carolina Humanitarian Award Won
Bob Hope Congressional Medal of Honor Society Entertainer’s Award Won
Country Music Cares Humanitarian Award Won
1996 Country Radio Seminar Won
VFW Hall of Fame Inducted
1997 TNN/Music City News Awards Entertainer of the Year Nominated
Male Artist of the Year Nominated
Album of the Year – Trail of Tears Nominated
Single of the Year – “Trail of Tears” Won
Video of the Year – “Trail of Tears” Nominated
Modern Screen’s Country Music Magazine Entertainer and Male Artist Won
Air Force Sergeants Awards Americanism Award Won
1998 TNN/Music City News Awards Entertainer of the Year Nominated
Male Artist of the Year Won
Album of the Year – The Best of Billy Ray Cyrus: Cover to Cover Won
Single of the Year – “It’s All The Same To Me” Won
Song of the Year – “It’s All The Same To Me” Won
Video of the Year – “Three Little Words” Won
Modern Screen’s Country Music Magazine Entertainer and Male Artist Won
1999 Modern Screen’s Country Music Magazine Entertainer and Male Artist Won
International Entertainment Buyers Association Humanitarian of the Year Won
Music Row Magazine Video of the Year for “Give My Heart to You” Won
2004 Dove Awards Country Album of the Year – The Other Side Nominated
2005 Dove Awards Country Song of the Year – “The Other Side” Nominated
MovieGuide Awards Grace Awards for Doc in “Happy Trails” Nominated
2008 CMT Music Awards Tearjerker Video of the Year – “Ready, Set, Don’t Go” Nominated
BMI Songwriter of the Year Top 50 Most Played Songs of 2008 – “Ready, Set, Don’t Go” Won
2009 Teen Choice Awards Choice TV Parental Unit – Hannah Montana Won
American Music Awards Favorite Soundtrack – Hannah Montana: The Movie
(as a member of the Various Artists) Nominated
2010 GMC Video Awards Favorite Country Video – “Somebody Said a Prayer” Nominated
Golden Raspberry Awards Worst Supporting Actor – Hannah Montana: The Movie Won
MovieGuide Awards Grace Awards for Christmas in Canaan (with Matt Ward) Nominated
American Society of Young Musicians Awards Best Country Artist Won
Main article: Billy Ray Cyrus discography
Year Album Record label
1992 Some Gave All PolyGram/Mercury
1993 It Won’t Be the Last
1994 Storm in the Heartland
1996 Trail of Tears
1998 Shot Full of Love Mercury Nashville
2000 Southern Rain Monument Records
2003 Time Flies Madacy/Sony BMG
The Other Side Word/Curb/Warner Bros. Nashville
2006 Wanna Be Your Joe New Door/UMe
2007 Home at Last Walt Disney Records
2009 Back to Tennessee Lyric Street Records
2010 I’m American Walt Disney Records
Year Album Record label
1997 The Best of Billy Ray Cyrus: Cover to Cover PolyGram/Mercury
2001 Achy Breaky Heart Spectrum Music
2003 20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection Mercury Nashville
2004 The Definitive Collection
2005 The Collection Madacy/Sony BMG
2008 Love Songs Mercury Nashville
2009 The Best of Billy Ray Cyrus Universal Music Canada
Year Album Record label
2009 iTunes Live from London iTunes UK
Year Film Role Notes
2001 Radical Jack Jack Main role
2002 Mulholland Drive Gene
Wish You Were Dead Dean Longo
2004 Death and Texas Spoade Perkins
Elvis Has Left the Building Hank
2008 Bait Shop Hot Rod Johnson Main role
Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Himself
2009 Flying By George Barron
Hannah Montana: The Movie Robby Ray Stewart
Christmas in Canaan Daniel Burton Main role; Hallmark Channel exclusive
2010 The Spy Next Door Colton James Main role
Year Film Role Notes
1995 The Nanny Himself 1 episode; “A Kiss Is Just a Kiss”
1997 Diagnosis Murder 1 episode; “Murder, Country Style”
1999 The Love Boat: The Next Wave Lasso Larry Larsen 1 episode; “Divorce, Downbeat and Distemper”
2000 18 Wheels of Justice Henry Conners 1 episode; “Games of Chance”
2001 Doc Dr. Clint Cassidy 88 episodes; 2001–2004
2002 Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye 1 episode; “Pilot”
2003 Degrassi: The Next Generation Lime Drive, Duke 1 episode; “The Power of Love”
2006 Hannah Montana Robby Ray Stewart Main role (2006–Present)
2007 Billy Ray Cyrus: Home at Last Himself 4 episodes; aired on CMT
Dancing with the Stars 17 episodes; finished in 5th place
2008 Hillbilly: The Real Story hosted special on the History Channel
2008 CMT Music Awards co-hosted with Miley Cyrus
Nashville Star co-hosted with Katie Cook
Phineas and Ferb Buck Buckerson 1 episode; “It’s a Mud, Mud, Mud, Mud World”
Studio DC: Almost Live Himself performed “Ready, Set, Don’t Go”
2009 Hannah Montana: The Movie – Behind the Scenes hosted special on GAC
2011 UFO: Unbelievably Freakin’ Obvious Main role; upcoming series
Homecoming upcoming series on TLC
Year Video Artist Notes
1993 “Romeo” Dolly Parton, Kathy Mattea, Mary Chapin
Carpenter, Tanya Tucker, and Pam Tillis
2009 “Seventeen Forever” Metro Station