On this day in 1992, Billy Ray Cyrus hit No.1 on the country radio chart with his breakout hit, “Achy Breaky Heart.” The song reached the top of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and remained there for five weeks, according to Billboard.
Cyrus released the song, which was written by Don Von Tress, on March 23, 1992 as his debut single and lead release from his album, Some Gave All.
“Before we started going into rehearsal,” Cyrus recalled in an interview with Billboard, “he said, ‘Hey, man, I got this thing that you’ll either love it or hate it.’ It ended up being the story of the song.”
The toe-tapping tune also peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1992 and garnered five Grammy nominations for Cyrus and Von Tress.
The platinum-selling hit even caught the attention of a few of Cyrus’s heroes, including country music legend Johnny Cash, who sent Cyrus a note congratulating him on the song’s success. Cash also praised Cyrus for the way he handled the criticism of the song.
“Thirty-six years ago I was working with Elvis and saw him take the same kind of flak you’re taking now,” the country music icon wrote. “Congratulations on the way you’re handling it all. In you’re case, as in Elvis’, the good outweighs the bad.”
Cyrus shared the letter with fans on social media and said it was a ” tremendous source of strength at the time.”
Bob Segar also reached out to Cyrus about the song after it received a negative review from The Los Angeles Times. Bruce Springsteen once covered “Achy Breaky Heart” during a concert in New Jersey.
“Two of my heroes stepped up to the plate, and that was good enough for me,” Cyrus admitted.. “If the Boss was cool with it and Johnny Cash was cool with it, it didn’t matter what anybody else said.”
What many fans may not realize is that the track is actually a cover song. The original version of the song was released in 1991 by The Marcy Brothers under the title “Don’t Tell My Heart.” According to reports, it was also pitched to the Oak Ridge Boys, who ultimately passed on recording it due to the fact that member Duane Allen didn’t like the term “achy breaky.”
Their loss was obviously Billy Ray Cyrus’ gain.
The music video was a massive hit among fans as well and was a leading contributor to the line dancing trend at the time.
To this day, “Achy Breaky Heart’ remains Cyrus’ signature song.