>Billy Ray Cyrus still has loyal following (Manistee News Advocate Aug. 06)

Posted: August 29, 2006 in Entertainment

>MANISTEE — Billy Ray Cyrus performed two sold out shows at the Little River Casino Resort on Sunday to a room full of extremely enthusiastic fans. Between the two performances, Cyrus signed autographs from the stage, and also held a meet and greet session for members of his fan club and others who were lucky enough to get a hold of back stage passes. Judging from the reaction of the fans Sunday night, if the ballroom at Little River would have held twice as many seats, they would have been able to fill them.After meeting with twenty or so of the more rabid fans, Cyrus was able to answer a few questions, darting outside a side door of the conference center in the middle of the construction of Little River’s forthcoming 1400 seat entertainment venue. The interview which was originally scheduled for 4:30 had been pushed to 6:30, and the 15 allotted minutes were now whittled down by his brother and road manager Mick to about five. He had good things to say about Manistee during that short time. Cyrus looked over to the ongoing construction site. “It’s growing,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of casinos, start out, across the country, from the ground floor, and when you see what it can do for the community, and what it can do for the state, what it can do for the people — the whole attitude in general is awesome, and anytime you see something like this growing, its just such a great thing.”Most people remember Cyrus from his 1992 hit “Achy Breaky Hearty”, and his infamous mullet. The success of “Achy Breaky Heart” from his first album Some Gave All helped renew the popularity of line dancing and made Cyrus a star. But the general public has deemed Cyrus a one-hit wonder since he fell off the radar in the early nineties. His hard-core fans, however, never left.Cyrus’ follow-up album, It Won’t Be the Last, began strong, but sales were disappointing compared to Some Gave All. He appeared on Dolly Parton’s 1993 single “Romeo”, then continued to chart and release four more albums over the next six years. These were Storm in the Heartland (1994), Trail of Tears (1996), Shot Full of Love (1998) and Southern Rain (2000). He has had some success as a gospel singer with his album The Other Side in 2003. His most recent album, released in July 2006, is Wanna Be Your Joe.Most people, however, don’t know about the other albums and the years of touring Cyrus has done. They remember that one song, and that old hair-cut. Cyrus even lampooned himself on one of his albums with a cut entitled “I Want My Mullet Back.”In 2004, Blender magazine selected “Achy Breaky Heart” as the magazine’s choice for “second worst song ever.” Those who have written Cyrus off as a one hit wonder should note, however, that his career has included three #1 singles and six Top Ten singles, including “Could’ve Been Me” and “In the Heart of a Woman.” Cyrus also holds the record for the longest time at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 album chart for a debut record (17 weeks).Cyrus has always been modest and down to earth in the past, partly due to the fun had at his expense from critics — but his recent successes in the realm of television have given him more confidence, and a bit of a harder edge; some might even say “cockiness”. Gone is the simple guy from Nashville who made it big; now he has more of the temperament seen from a Hollywood celebrity. In 2001, Cyrus began playing the lead role on the PAX (now i Network) comedy-drama Doc. Doc became the highest-rated show on the network, and continues to air in reruns on the channel. In 2005, Cyrus expanded his acting career in a stage production of “Annie Get Your Gun” in Toronto, in the role of Frank Butler. 2004 brought Cyrus another guest starring role in an episode of the Canadian teen drama Degrassi: The Next Generation.Most recently, Cyrus and his daughter Miley starred in the first season of a new Disney Channel original television series, “Hannah Montana”. The show revolves around a young pop star (played by Miley) who adopts an alter-ego to protect her identity at school, fulfilling her wish to live life as a “normal” kid. Cyrus plays the pop star’s widowed father, manager, and famous singer Robbie Ray. Footage of Robbie Ray as a famous singer in the past is actual footage and photos of Billy Ray himself as a singer. Hannah Montana is currently airing on the Disney Channel, and has received positive reviews from critics and viewers. Many of the fans at Sunday’s performance were young fans of the show and of Miley, and several in attendance were hoping that she was with her famous dad on the tour. One of Cyrus’ staff members said he likes to joke with the crowd when they ask for her and he tells them she’s back on the bus. All joking aside, of his newly famous daughter, he says, “She’s got a busy future — she’s like me, she loves acting and she loves singing. Her whole heart’s into it.”The success of the show has made Miley a star, but according to her dad, “she’s making her second album, and doing videos for the first; she’s staying so busy, she hasn’t had time to realize how huge this thing is, but when she gets out on the road with the Cheetah Girls at the end of September, first part of October, she’s going to see first hand that (fame) is very powerful.”When asked how he has the time to fit in touring and acting on a popular Disney channel show, he replied, “I just stay busy, and I’m lucky because I love what I do. I love making music, and I love acting.” Then, as quickly as he came, and without another word, Cyrus turned and bolted for his tour bus, to get a five minute break before he went out on stage once again.And in case you’re wondering, he finished the show with “Achey Breaky Heart.” After all, he knows what the fans want. Cean Burgeson can be reached at: cburgeson@pioneergroup.net

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