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Written by the Country songwriter and performer Don Von Tress, this was a remake of a 1991 song by the Country act The Marcy Brothers, titled "Don't Tell My Heart." That original version had the lyrics: "Don't tell my heart, my achy, breakin' heart..." (thanks, David - Long Beach, CA)
This best represents the Country music craze in the early '90s. As the audience for "Old Country" artists like Willie Nelson and George Strait waned, younger listeners turned to "New Country," which was heavily produced and contained pop melodies. "Achy Breaky Heart" led the charge, crossing over to Top 40 radio and becoming a huge hit. Many people hated it and blamed Cyrus for desecrating Country music, but it led the way for artists like Shania Twain and Faith Hill, who had massive pop success with Country songs.
Born and raised in Flatwoods, Kentucky, Cyrus first worked as a car salesman there, and dreamed of being a professional baseball player. He made his singing debut in father's Gospel group.
This song became the most popular and prominent of the United States line dancing craze of the early '90s. It spawned a dance called "The Achy Breaky," which became very popular in Country dance bars.
The album Some Gave All went to #1 for 17 weeks based on the success of this song. The 17 week run at #1 is a record for a debut artist.
Cyrus claims he was too bashful to get on the floor at high school dances. He clearly came out of his shell.
Cyrus was signed to Mercury Records in 1990 thanks to some help from a friend he'd made, Grand Ole Opry star Del Reeves.
Despite not having any more hits, Cyrus has still enjoyed commercial success. His second album debuted at #3 and went platinum. When his singing career stalled, he turned to acting roles, including a part in the 2001 movie Mulholland Drive. Billy Ray's daughter, Miley Cyrus, found success starring in the Disney Channel show Hannah Montana. She plays a girl who is secretly a pop star by night. Billy Ray is also in the show, playing her manager. (thanks, Caitlin - Upper Township, NJ)
This was the first million-selling Country single since "Islands in the Stream
" by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton in 1983.
Weird Al Yankovic did a spoof of this called "Achy Breaky Song," which made fun of the artist and the song. (thanks, Brandon - Seattle, WA)
In Billy Ray Cyrus' 2006 song "I Want My Mullet Back," the riff to this song is sampled in the guitar solo. (thanks, Vincent - Fayetteville, AR)
A rap reworking of the song by Buck 22 titled "Achy Breaky 2
" entered the Hot 100 in 2014. Cyrus contributed vocals to this new version as well and also appeared in the video.
Reverend Horton Heat
The Reverend rants on psychobilly and the egghead academics he bashes in one of his more popular songs.
Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum
Dave explains how the video appropriated the meaning of "Runaway Train," and what he thought of getting parodied by Weird Al.
An original member of Depeche Mode, Vince went on to form Erasure and Yaz.