Long before his name became synonymous with 1992’s “Achy Breaky Heart,” Billy Ray Cyrus had dreamed of becoming a country music star. But when the aspiring musician began approaching 30, he took a look at his friends’ successes and realized that his experience was far different ― and, as Cyrus tells “Oprah: Where Are They Now?”, he needed something to change.
“All of my buddies had real lives and jobs. There I was, still playing the bar,” Cyrus says. “I got on my knees and I said, ‘God, I’m a desperate man. Tell me what to do.’”
At that moment, Cyrus says he felt a response.
“As I was on my knees, something said, ‘Go to Nashville this week,’” he says. “That voice inside, that spirit, whatever that is inside ― I listened.”
So, with the capital of country music on his mind, Cyrus made a phone call to Mercury Records, pleading his case to the assistant working for Harold Shedd, head of the label’s talent department. “I said, ‘Ma’am, you don’t understand. I’m desperate,’” Cyrus says. “She put me on hold and she came back and said, ‘Mr. Shedd will see you tomorrow morning at 9:15 ― but one song.’”
Cyrus was ecstatic. He hopped in his car and immediately drove six hours from Kentucky to Nashville to make sure he’d be on time for his big meeting, sleeping in his car upon arrival. When 9:15 rolled around, Cyrus was at Mercury Records in front of Shedd, guitar in hand, ready to play the song that could change his life. And it did.
“After 10 years of being told ‘no,’ he shook my hand and said, ‘Welcome to Mercury Records,’” Cyrus recalls. “I just packed my guitar up and got out of there before somebody could change their mind!”
Another country music moment: