It all started in 1992, when Billy Ray's song "Achy Breaky Heart" became a number four hit on the pop chart. This was at a time when grunge was huge, and country songs simply did not become pop hits anymore. Billy Ray Cyrus was officially a phenomenon.
Billy Ray had more country hits, but not another pop smash like "Achy Breaky Heart." But that didn't stop his career, because he simply moved over to acting. From 2001-2004, he starred as the title character in the Pax Network series Doc.
Then from 2006-2011, Billy Ray starred alongside daughter Miley on the Disney Channel series Hannah Montana. All the while, he was still making music and releasing albums. People who thought he would disappear after "Achy Breaky" were completely mistaken.
In fact, Billy Ray Cyrus has shown that he can still make headlines, even in 2017. That was true earlier this year, when he gave an interview to Rolling Stone. And that interview included a major announcement.
In the interview from April, Billy Ray Cyrus revealed some major news - his name would no longer include the "Billy" or the "Ray." "After August 25th, I will be the artist formerly known as Billy Ray," he said. "I'm just going by my last name, Cyrus."
"I always went by Cyrus, and I begged Mercury Records to call me Cyrus in the beginning because that's what I was comfortable with," he continued. "I'm going to the hospital where I was born in Bellefonte, Kentucky, and legally changing my name." Because if Madonna and Cher can do it, why not Cyrus?
Cyrus may have always wanted to be referred to by his last name alone, but that doesn't mean his fans approved. On Facebook, one fan said, "Sorry you’ll always be Billy Ray to me. Change ur name all u want. I was 14 or 15 in achy breaky heart days and your posters were all over my wall. I will always call you Billy Ray."
Another fan was so upset about the name change that they brought up Cyrus's mom. "Why change your name your mom gave it to you for a reason," the fan said. "I would like to know what she would say about that."
Billy Ray explained the whole thing during an appearance on Live With Ryan And Kelly. "I was supposed to keep (the name) under wraps until 8/25, that’s my birthday. It’s the 25-year anniversary (of ‘Achy, Breaky Heart’),” he said. “I have new music coming."
Basically, it appears that Billy Ray heard how upset his fans were about the new name that he backtracked. He even told Taste Of Country he'd take a poll and ask fans to pick what they want to call him. "There’s now four versions, and I think over the next few months I’m gonna take a poll,” he said. “So I can be Billy Ray or Billy Ray Cyrus, or ‘C’ Cyrus or ‘D, I don’t give a s–t."
To mark the 25th anniversary of his biggest his, Billy Ray Cyrus recorded a new updated version of "Achy Breaky Heart." And to show he's got a sense of humor about his past, he even named his backing group "The Silver Mullet Band." But what about that album that will just be called Cyrus?
Billy Ray actually wound up dropping the Cyrus album title, and his new record has been given the name Set The Record Straight. And at the same time, he's also starring on the TV series Still The King, where he plays an Elvis impersonator. So no matter what you call Billy Ray, he's still not going away anytime soon.