Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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CYRUS, Billy Ray

(b 25 Aug. '61, Flatwoods KY) Country-hunk who caused a storm with his sudden rise to the top '92, his sexual gyrations turning conservative country music upside down. From a Southern gospel family, making his singing debut in father's gospel group, he formed his own Sly Dog band '83 performing a mix of Southern rock, country and blues in clubs around the Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia border. He travelled to Nashville many times between '86--90 without any luck; Opry veteran Del Reeves produced some demos, turned down by all major labels. Dynamic stage show eventually led to a record deal with Mercury '91, and the dance-inspired 'Achy Breaky Heart' was given a pop-promotion that saw Cyrus take off, with his debut album Some Gave All reaching no. 1 on the pop chart. Though dubbed a one-hit wonder, he scored further hits with 'Could've Been Me' '92, 'In The Heart Of A Woman' '93 'Words By Heart' '94; second album It Won't Be The Last was a no. 1 country album for five weeks, third Storm In the Heartland reached no. 11.