Billy Ray Cyrus (born William Ray Cyrus, August 25, 1961) is a Grammy Award-nominated American country singer-songwriter and actor, best known for his hit single "Achy Breaky Heart". A multi-platinum selling recording artist, he has eight top-ten singles on the Billboard country music charts. From 2001 to 2004, he starred in the television series Doc, a show about a rural doctor adjusting to his move from a ranch to a large city. As of 2006, he is co-starring in the Disney Channel original television series, Hannah Montana, which stars his daughter Miley Cyrus. In Cyrus' career, he has released 28 charting singles, 13 of which reached the top 40 and one reached the top of Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
Cyrus was born in Flatwoods, Kentucky, the son of Ron Cyrus, a politician, and his wife, the former Ruth Ann Adkins.. His grandfather was a Pentecostal preacher. Cyrus later went to college at Georgetown College on a baseball scholarship before switching his focus to music.
While trying to get a record deal in Los Angeles, Cyrus was signed to Mercury Records. He began recording music for his debut album, Some Gave All, released in 1992. The album sold over 9 million copies. Part of the album's success can be attributed to Cyrus's #1 single, "Achy Breaky Heart". Some Gave All debuted atop both the Top Country Albums and the Billboard 200, staying at No.1 for 34 and 17 weeks, respectively
In 1993, Cyrus returned with It Won't Be the Last, which debuted at #1 and went Platinum in the US. The album featured the Top 5 single, "In the Heart of a Woman", which peaked at #3.
Storm in the Heartland was released in '94, and went Gold. Although the only successful single was the title track, the album featured two more singles, both failed to meet Cyrus's hopeful expectations.
Two more country albums were released in the late 1990s, Trail of Tears in 1996, which went to #20 on the Country charts, and Shot Full of Love in 1998 which went even lower at #32.
In the early 2000s, Southern Rain was the first country album of the decade for Cyrus, although he wouldn't release another until 2006. The year 2003 brought two Contemporary/Chrisitain albums, Time Flies and The Other Side. Neither albums spawned a hit single, the latter peaked at #56 on the Top Country Albums chart, while The Other Side made the Top 20. Cyrus would be on a hiatus from the charts until 2006.
Once again, a new label (New Door/UMe) was the home of the 2006 album, Wanna Be Your Joe. This was Billy Ray's return to Country music since 2000. The only single released was the title track. When the album itself was released, it debuted and peaked at #24 on the Top Country Albums, #113 on the all-genre Billboard 200.
Home at Last was released through Walt Disney Records in July 2007. From his exposure on Hannah Montana and Dancing With the Stars, the album debuted at an impressive #3 (the first Top 5 album since 1993). Two singles were released. "Ready, Set, Don't Go" reached #33 on the Hot Country Songs chart, but in October 2007, the single was re-released with Cyrus' daughter, Miley Cyrus. After that, the singles airplay massively increased, managing to reach #4.
Mid-2008, Cyrus' website confirmed that he would released a new album entitled, Back to Tennessee Once again, he switched labels. Billy Ray now records on Lyric Street Records which is also the home of Rascal Flatts and Marcel. The first single from the album is "Somebody Said a Prayer".
He also sang "The Star Spangled Banner" at Game 5 of the 2006 World Series in St. Louis, Missouri.
Billy Ray Cyrus singing at the Spirit of America tour.
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, Dreams Come True and 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.
In 2007, Cyrus filmed the music video for his latest hit, Ready, Set, Don't Go. He dedicated this song to Miley. The video showed pictures from Hannah Montana along with others.
From 1986 until 1991, Cyrus was married to Cindy Smith, with whom he co-wrote the song Wher'm I Gonna Live?, which was featured on his 1992 album Some Gave All. On December 28, 1992, he married Leticia "Tish" Finley,. Together they have three children, daughters Miley Ray (born as Destiny Hope), Noah Lindsey, and son Braison Chance. He also has two stepchildren, Trace (born 1989) (singer/guitarist for Metro Station) and Brandi (born 1987), and a son from a previous relationship, Christopher Cody (born 1992).
In a 2004 interview on ABC News: 'Primetime', Cyrus stated that daughter Miley (conceived with Finley) and son Cody (conceived with an unidentified woman) were both born in 1992, at which time Cyrus was unmarried, and that he and Finley secretly married on December 28 of 1992.
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.
In addition to several music awards from various organizations, Cyrus also holds awards from charitable work.
In 1999, Cyrus received the International Entertainment Buyer Association’s "Humanitarian of the Year" Award for his philanthropic work. His charitable efforts have been recognized by the Country Radio Broadcasters, who honored him with their Artist Humanitarian Award, and by the Kennedy Center Honors, which recognized him for his work with children. He also received the first ever Bob Hope Congressional Medal of Honor Society Entertainer’s Award for his dedication to philanthropy.
Billy Ray has been nominated in the Tearjerker Video of the Year for "Ready, Set, Don't Go" in 2008. The nomination is from the 2008 CMT Music Awards. In the category, artists such as Kenny Chesney and Reba McEntire are also nominated.
For a list of albums and singles, see Billy Ray Cyrus discography.