Country music megastar, Billy Ray Cyrus is without a doubt one of the first names people think of when it comes to the genre. Over the years, Billy Ray has proven himself to be a multi-talented musician and actor with great crossover appeal. Even people who are not fans of the genre have great respect for Billy Ray.
Since the 80s, Billy Ray has made himself known across the airwaves and musical charts- especially with his widely popular hit song “Achy Breaky Heart”. Over the years his success has been consistent.
Keep reading to see how exactly his time in the spotlight has paid off.
Net Worth: $20 Million
Billy Ray Cyrus began his musical career in the 1980s playing in the band ‘Sly Dog’, but began his professional career as a solo artist under a label in the year 1989. In 1992, Cyrus released his debut album Some Gave All which was a commercial success thus garnering attention from country music fans from all over and marking his place in the drama for more continuous success. Over the course of his career, Billy Ray Cyrus has released 14 albums as of 2017 and has appeared as a featured artist on numerous songs.
Other ventures that Cyrus has pursued throughout his career include acting. He has made numerous guest television and on-screen film appearances. One of his most known roles is the patriarchal figure, Robby Ray Stewart on the former Disney Channel sitcom Hannah Montana that ran on the channel from 2006 to 2011.
Early Life (1961 – 1989)
Billy Ray Cyrus was born William Ray Cyrus on August 26, 1961 in Flatwoods, Kentucky. His father, Ron Cyrus, was a Democratic politician serving in Kentucky’s House of Representatives for the 98th district of Greenup County. Growing up, Cyrus was surrounded by music as his grandfather was a Pentacostal preacher, which engulfed a young Billy Ray in the sounds of gospel music in addition to being surrounded by Kentucky blugrass music. In addition to being a politician, Ron Cyrus was also a musician himself who introduced his son to the guitar.
Although music ended up being Billy Ray’s true calling, he was a talented baseball player. His skill for the sport caught the attention of recruiters from Georgetown College. Cyrus went on to attend Georgetown College on a baseball scholarship, however, he dropped out during his junior year at the institution after deciding to seriously pursue a career in music. He came to this conclusion after attending a Neil Diamond concert and meticulously set out to fulfill his dream and true calling of being a professional musician.
Throughout the 1980s, Billy Ray pursued his musical dream with fervor as he played in a band named Sly Dog. Billy Ray often found himself bouncing between Los Angeles and the country music mecca of Nashville in pursuit of landing a record deal. This went on until 1989 when he was signed to Mercury Nashville Records in as a solo artist.
Mercury Records ( 1990 – 1998 )
After signing to Mercury Nashville Records in 1989, Billy Ray’s career was set in motion as he was immediately thrust into the limelight. Billy Ray became quickly associated with big names in country such as Reba McEntire and Three years prior to Billy Ray snagging a record deal with Mercury, he married Cindy Smith who was quite supportive of her husband’s career. She is credited in helping to write two songs off of Billy Ray Cyrus’ first album, Some Gave All. She assisted in writing the songs “Wher’m I Gonna Live” and the title track “Some Gave All”. The couple divorced in October of 1991, just a few months shy of the release of Billy Ray’s debut album Some Gave All (1992).
The release of Cyrus’ first album was deemed a success, especially with the single that was spawned off the album. To this day ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ is one of Billy Ray Cyrus’ most recognized songs. The single hit #1 on the Hot Country Songs chart and #4 on Billboard Hot 100. The album, Some Gave All, topped Billboard Top Country Songs and Billboard 200 at #1 upon his debut.
In the following year, 1993, Billy Ray released his second studio album It Won’t Be The Last. This album was a commercial success just as the first. The album debuted at #1 on the Country charts and #3 on the Billboard 200 chart.
Under Mercury Nashville Records, Billy Ray would release three more albums: Storm in the Heartland (1994), Trail of Tears (1996) and Shot Full of Love (1998). Although these albums recieved critical acclaim, they did not receive the same amount of commercial success of his first two albums.
Move to Monument Records & A New Direction ( 1999 – 2003 )
After leaving his first label, Billy Ray Cyrus signed with Monument records in 1999. His debut album with his new label was Southern Rain released in 2000. Although the album and its singles did chart, they once again did not reach the same commercial success of the very beginning of his professional career. Upon the release of Southern Rain, Billy Ray figured that it was time for a change- he began to dabble in the genre of Christian music. In 2003 Billy Ray released two Christian albums entitled Time Flies and The Other Side. Between the two albums, The Other Side had the most commercial success in terms of charting as it reached #5 on the Top Christian Albums upon its debut.
Disney, Hannah Montana & Brother Clyde (2006 – 2011)
In 2006 Billy Ray released the album Wanna Be Your Joe while filming the first season of the Disney Channel hit show Hannah Montana. This was Billy Ray’s ninth studio album and first country album since Southern Rain.
During this time, Billy Ray’s career mostly centered on acting. Alongside his daughter, Miley, he starred as a main character in Hannah Montana. In his role he played ‘Robby Ray Stewart’ the fictional father to Hannah Montana- the show’s main character. The sitcom ran on Disney Channel for five years from 2006 to 2011.
In addition to his role on Hannah Montana, Billy Ray also participated in the fourth season of Dancing With The Stars, making it to the eighth week of the competition before being eliminated. He also starred alongside Jackie Chan in the 2010 film The Spy Next Door.
In early 2009, Billy Ray Cyrus formed an alternative rock group with fellow country music stars Phil Vassar, Jeffrey Steele and John Waite called ‘Brother Clyde’. However, in June of 2010 it was announced that the group underwent changes to the lineup. The original members were replaced by Samantha Maloney, Jamie Miller, Dan Knight and Dave Henning. The group’s first single ‘Lately’ was released in August of 2010. The band later dissolved that same year while Billy Ray released another solo album entitled, I’m American, on June 28, 2011.
Post Brother Clyde & ‘Old Town Road’ (2012 – Present)
Following the release of I’m American, Billy Ray released his 13th studio album Change My Mind on October 23, 2012.
In March of 2019, Billboard removed the viral country-rap track ‘Old Town Road’ by up and coming Atlanta rapper Lil Nas X from its #1 spot. This sparked much controversy as Billboard’s reasoning for stripping the track’s #1 title, in short, was that the song “…does not embrace enough elements of today’s country music to chart in its current version”. Shortly after this statement was given, Billy Ray Cyrus showed the rapper support via Twitter as well as hopping on a remix of the hit song, which shot up to #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 shortly after its release, making it Billy Ray Cyrus’s first #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart and solidifying Lil Nas X’s place on the chart for his single.
Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus performing Old Town Road live together for the first time is the most important performance of our lifetime pic.twitter.com/sfww80zhIv
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) April 29, 2019