Cyrus reminds himself to stay Billy Ray

February 17, 1993|By James Endrst | James Endrst,The Hartford Courant

It's hard to believe Billy Ray Cyrus is for real -- or, if he is, that he'll stay that way for long.

Here's a guy who not so long ago was selling cars. Now suddenly he's an overnight superstar (though he's been working at it for a decade), a country-music crossover whose debut album, "Some Gave All," was 1992's biggest seller -- thanks, in large part, to an ultimately inescapable hit single called "Achy Breaky Heart."

Things are moving quickly, to say the least, in the 6-foot, 30-something-year-old singer's life.

But Mr. Cyrus hasn't forgotten his roots.

As a matter of fact, during an interview to promote ABC's "The Billy Ray Cyrus Special -- Dreams Come True," to be broadcast tonight at 10 on WJZ (Channel 13), Mr. Cyrus seemed determined never to forget where he came from.

"I'm Billy Ray Cyrus from Flatwoods, Kentucky," he said so many times, it sounded like his mantra.

Yes, he admitted, success has already changed much of his life. He's got fame, no doubt a growing fortune, and the tabloids have already taken a few whacks at digging up dirt on his personal life. (He's been divorced once and has a toddler named Christopher Cody.)

"But I've always believed that you should focus on your dreams," said Mr. Cyrus, a long-haired, brown-eyed, soft-spoken country boy with choirboy manners, five Grammy nominations and big beefcake good looks (though he denies rumors that he once worked as a Chippendale dancer).

"I realize that I'm living on the edge of life," he said. "And when you live on the edge, there's only so long that you can stay on the edge, and eventually you must fall off. So I'm not afraid of that. I realize that it's inevitable." And right now, said Mr. Cyrus, the greatest challenge he faces is not the follow-up to his first album, nor his ABC special -- a mix of concert footage (filmed in Reno, Nev.)and some up-close-and-personal biography.

No, the hard part is just being himself.

"I've never let anyone tell me what to wear, and what to do, and what to sing and how to sing it," he said. "I just want to make sure that I stay me, Billy Ray Cyrus from Flatwoods, Kentucky."

As if anyone could forget.

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