Billy Ray Cyrus Biography

Billy Ray Cyrus

Billy Ray Cyrus grew up surrounded by gospel music: the grandson of a Pentecostal preacher, the young Cyrus was singing with his father's gospel quartet before he'd started grade school.

Billy Ray Cyrus is the son of Ron Cyrus, a politician, and Ruth Ann Adkins. Growing up, he was strongly influenced by his grandfather, who was a Pentecostal preacher; coming from such a staunchly Christian background, it is hardly surprising that Billy Ray should become a devout Christian too.

Despite the fact that baseball, rather than music, was his first love when he was a high school student, Cyrus claims that “intuition and an inner voice” prompted him to go out and buy a guitar when he was 20. The ambition to become a singer began to grow within him and Cyrus and his brother formed a group called Sly Dog, giving themselves a ten-month deadline in which to find a venue where they could play their music in front of an audience. Just one week prior to the cut-off date, Cyrus’ group secured a booking as a house band for a club in Ironton, Ohio, where they remained as the resident band for over two years.

Tragedy struck in 1984, when a fire destroyed not only the club itself - but also Cyrus' equipment. Undaunted, he decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of securing a recording contract. As fate would have it, he was then noticed by Grand Ol’ Opry star Del Reeves, who introduced Cyrus to the bosses at Mercury Records. Producer Harold Shedd at Mercury was so impressed with Cyrus that he offered him a record deal - it was the summer of 1990.

Cyrus' first album, 'Some Gave All', was released in 1992 and was an instant success. With his honed body, rugged good looks and on-stage charisma, he was a sensation with the record-buying public. His debut album sold over nine million copies; in particular, the single 'Achy Breaky Heart' spent five weeks at the top of the country charts. The album itself went on to remain at the top of the pop charts for a staggering 17 weeks.

Having started his record career in a whirlwind of success, Cyrus naturally had high hopes for his second album, 'It Won’t Be The Last', which he released in the summer of 1993. The album did quite well at first, entering the pop charts at number three, before it eventually fell short of the sales that might have been hoped for, given the runaway success of Cyrus' debut album. A similar fate awaited Cyrus' next album, 'Storm In The Heartland', which was released in autumn 1994. The album managed to achieve gold, but didn’t receive the air time that might have been hoped for on country radio.

Undeterred, Cyrus continued to record more albums - but by the time his next offering, 'Trail of Tears', appeared in 1996, his following had dwindled considerably: the songs Cyrus had produced were harder-edged, and more introspective, and the public didn’t like them as much as their predecessors. The album only spent four weeks in the charts and didn’t even reach gold, let alone platinum sales. Cyrus followed up with an album called 'Shot Full of Love' in 1998 and 'Southern Rain' in 2000.

Other performers might have been daunted and discouraged by such a disheartening fall in sales, but Cyrus simply decided to reinvent himself and diversify. Beginning in 1999, he starred in the indie movie, 'Radical Jack', and then went on to take a small part in David Lynch’s hit movie, 'Mulholland Drive'. Cyrus played the part of a pool cleaner who has been having an affair with the wife of Adam Kesher, played by Justin Theroux. As a devout Christian, however, Cyrus wasn’t happy playing roles such as those of an adulterer, since it conflicted with his strong Christian beliefs; he was reported to have been “upset by the lack of morals in Hollywood” and turned his attention to TV acting instead.

Moving to TV acting was a good move for Cyrus, for far greater success lay in store for him when he began to appear on TV. In 2001, he landed the lead role in the comedy drama series 'Doc', which went on to become the ION TV network’s highest-rated show. Cyrus felt far more comfortable playing in a family-oriented show, and decided to focus on TV acting rather than movies. His television credits include 'The Nanny', 'Diagnosis Murder', 'Love Boat', 'The Next Wave', and TNN’s '18 Wheels of Justice'. In 2004, he made a guest star appearance in the Canadian teen drama 'Degrassi: The Next Generation'. The following year, he acted and danced live on stage in Toronto, when he played the role of Frank Butler in 'Annie Get Your Gun'.

Interestingly, Cyrus has also appeared in several television documentaries that relate the story of his own rise to fame and stardom. These include two ABC documentaries, respectively entitled 'Dreams Come True' and 'A Year On The Road'. TNN have also produced two special programmes about Cyrus; these are called 'I Give My Heart To You' and 'The Life and Times of Billy Ray Cyrus'.

Cyrus also achieved a new level of stardom towards the end of 2005, when he began co-starring in the Disney Channel original TV series, 'Hannah Montana', alongside his young daughter Miley. After 'Doc' completed its run, Cyrus had actually decided that he wanted to take a break from acting but then the producers of Hannah Montana announced they were looking for someone to play the part of the father on the show. Cyrus initially refused to audition for the part of playing his real life daughter’s stage dad but his wife and daughter kept on pushing him, insisting that he was the perfect person to play the role. 'Hannah Montana' premiered to one of the largest audiences ever recorded on the Disney Channel and became an overnight success.

In 2007, Cyrus diversified his career still further when he appeared with several other celebrities to take part in the U.S. version of 'Dancing With The Stars'. Sadly, he and his partner, Karina Smirnoff, were eliminated in week eight. Also in 2007, Cyrus filmed the music video for his latest hit single, 'Ready, Set, Don’t Go', which he dedicated to his daughter Miley; the video naturally included clips from Hannah Montana.

Cyrus has been married twice, and has several children. Between 1986 and 1991, he was married to Cindy Smith, with whom he co-wrote the hit song, 'Where’m I Gonna Live?', which was featured on the album he brought out in 1992, namely 'Some Gave All'. In December 1992, he married his childhood sweetheart, Leticia 'Tish' Finley, to whom he is still married. Together, Cyrus and Tish have three children; daughters Miley Rae, who is also called Destiny/Hope, Noah Lindsay and their son, Brandon Chance. Cyrus also has two adopted stepchildren: Trace, and Brandi, as well as a son from a previous relationship, who’s called Christopher Cody.

In 2006, Cyrus' recording career experienced a second flowering. He released a new album called 'Wanna Be Your Joe', which succeeded in going gold - the first of his albums in eight years to do so - despite the fact that it failed to produce a hit single. Cyrus released his tenth studio album, 'Home At Last', in 2007, on the Disney label. The album debuted at number 20 on the American Billboard charts, and succeeded in re-establishing Cyrus as a major personality in American country music. Cyrus' latest album, 'Love Songs', a retrospective collection of songs taken from his best-selling albums released on the Mercury label, was released early in 2008.

In addition to his musical achievements, Cyrus also holds several awards for the work he has done for various charitable organisations. In 1999, he received the International Entertainment Buyer Association’s “Humanitarian Of The Year” Award for his philanthropic work. He has also been honoured by the Country Radio Broadcasters, and by the Kennedy Center Honors, which recognised and acknowledged his work with children. He also received the first ever Bob Hope Congressional Medal of Honour Society Entertainer’s Award for his dedication to helping others.

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