Producers: Joe Scaife and Jim Cotton
Track listing: Could’ve Been Me /Achy Breaky Heart / She’s Not Cryin’ Anymore / Wher’m I Gonna Live? / These Boots are Made for Walkin’ Someday, Somewhere, Somehow / Never Thought I’d Fall in Love with You / Ain’t No Good Goodbye / I’m So Miserable / Some Gave All
June 13, 1992
Billy Ray Cyrus always knew that if he was given the chance to make an album, it would be a hit. “For over a decade we would play in the tri-state area of Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia,” he recalls. “Our clientele always ranged from very young people to a lot of older people and everything in between. I always felt if someone would just give me and music a chance, its appeal would be equally wide.”
Cyrus found that person in 1989 when he hooked up with manager Jack McFadden, who had helped guide the career of a number of artists, including Buck Owens and Keith Whitley. The following year, with McFadden’s help, Cyrus signed with Mercury Records, but the struggle wasn’t over. On February 23, 1991 Cyrus, his band Sly Dog, and producers Scaife and Cotton, cut song “Some Gave All” as an audition for Mercury. The label wanted Cyrus to play with session players, but he insisted that he work with his own band. “Everyone loved it, but they didn’t schedule us in studio to do the rest of the album until the first two weeks of June 1991,” Cyrus says.
When June rolled around, Cyrus and company cut two songs a day, completing the entire album in the allotted two weeks. But Mercury was in no rush to release Some Gave All. “The album was done and in the can for almost a year,” Cyrus recalls. “That was a very dark period for me. They always say it’s darkest just before the dawn. I didn’t know if I would live to see the album come out.” Cyrus’s wife also lost faith, divorcing the would-be star who was waiting for his big break.
That break came in March 1992 when Mercury issued the music video of “Achy Breaky Heart,” which featured Cyrus’s country-hunk good looks and a dance step that would go on to sweep the nation as the song crossed over from country to top 40 radio stations.
Finally, on May 19, 1992, Mercury issued Some Gave All. Within a month, it topped the album chart, becoming, at the time, the fastest-selling debut album in history. “I was on an airplane traveling that morning,” Cyrus recalls. “I picked up USA Today and it said, ‘Fastest-rising debut ever to hit Number One, Billy Ray Cyrus, Some Gave All! You better believe that Billy Ray Cyrus prayed a very humble prayer that second.”
With “Achy Breaky Heart” topping the Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart and reaching number four on the Hot 100, and with two other top 10 country hits—”She’s Not Cryin’ Anymore” and “Could’ve Been Me”—Some Gave All went on to become the best-selling album of 1992.
However, the tremendous success also led to a backlash, particularly from critics who found “Achy Breaky Heart” insipid and compared Cyrus’s music unfavorably with that of Garth Brooks, country music’s other new pop sensation. “Every sword definitely has two edges,” Cyrus says. “A lot of people have judged Billy Ray Cyrus like a book by the cover, by the first impression, but nine million people around the world took time to listen to Some Gave All, to listen to the pages between the chapters.”
THE TOP FIVE
Week of June 13, 1992
- Some Gave All, Billy Ray Cyrus
- Totally Krossed Out, Kris Kross
- Blood Sugar Sex Magik, Red Hot Chili Peppers
- The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, The Black Crowes
- Adrenaline, Def Leppard