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Billy Ray Cyrus Getting His Kicks From Family And Lack Of Pressure

Billy Ray Cyrus’ first album, “Some Gave All” - led by the international hit “Achy Breaky Heart” - sold more than 8 million copies, but his second was still striving for only the 2 million mark when his newest collection, “Storm in the Heartland,” hit the market; yet Cyrus says he is presently the happiest he ever has been.

That, he explains, is because he feels that the pressure of following “Some Gave All” is finally off and because he finally is getting time to enjoy domestic bliss with his two young children, daughter Destiny Hope and son Braison Chance.

He has nicknamed Destiny Hope “‘Miley” purportedly because of her smiley disposition. Cyrus says Braison, still working toward his first birthday, “can’t do much yet” but “rides my four-wheeler and my horse with me” and recently uttered his first word: “Daa-daa.”

“My poor old back can’t really take much more, but I get off on walking around carrying them babies around the house and being a dad,” Cyrus says. “I set ‘em around me and watch (ABC-TV’s) ‘Monday Night Football,’ and my little girl, when she sees that red (Kansas City) Chiefs uniform she says, ‘Joe Montana!’ That’s the one football player she knows. When she sees a Chiefs uniform, that’s Joe Montana. Ah, it’s just great.”

Clint Black tour, video

Clint Black is gearing up for the Feb. 7 opening of his 1995 tour with a show at the Florida State Fair in Tampa. Black then will continue through Gainesville, Daytona Beach and Miami before heading to Texas for February dates in Houston and San Antonio.

In the meantime, he is sitting on a new video he directed himself titled “Summer’s Comin’.” The celebrityheavy production features comedian Howie Mandel and appearances by Dick Clark, Lisa Hartman Black, David Hasselhoff, George Kennedy, Jay Leno, Gerald McRaney, high fashion photographer Firooz Zahedi and Moose, the dog from the “Frasier” series, among others.

CMT videos of 1994

The top dozen country videos of the year, according to the CMT cable network’s “1994 Countdown,” were: (1) “My Love,” Little Texas; (2) “I Swear,” John Michael Montgomery; (3) “Independence Day,” Martina McBride; (4) “Indian Outlaw,” Tim McGraw; (5) “Foolish Pride,” Travis Tritt; (6) “Thinkin’ Problem,” David Ball; (7) “Livin’ on Love,” Alan Jackson; (8) “Why Haven’t I Heard From You,” Reba McEntire; (9) “Third Rock From the Sun,” Joe Diffie; (10) “What the Cowgirls Do,” Vince Gill; (11) “Little Rock,” Collin Raye; and (12) “Think About Elvis,” Patty Loveless.

Little Texas was named CMT’s Video Group of the Year. McGraw was named Male Video Artist of the Year, Loveless the Female Video Artist, and the Mavericks the Rising Video Star. Travis Tritt’s union with The Eagles on “Take It Easy” won Video Event.

Independent Video went to Shaver (a group headed by stellar songwriter Billy Joe Shaver and his guitar virtuoso son, Eddy) for “Georgia on a Fast Train,” while Joan Kennedy’s “Talk to My Heart” was Canadian Video of the Year. Video Director of the Year was awarded to Michael Salomon, whose 1994 efforts included The Tractors’ “Baby Likes to Rock It” and Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “Shut Up and Kiss Me.”

Tractor a wreck at show

Steve Ripley, lead singer of The Tractors, says it was extremely frightening to make the group’s firstever public performance at the fall Country Music Association awards show, in front of most of the greatest living names in the field.

Ripley’s stage fright that night was not helped by his having patterned himself vocally after such comparatively unschooled heroes as Louie Prima, Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan and Hank Williams Sr.

Ripley adds that he is “not knocking the way I do what I do. I twang, and I like it: it knocks me out. But if I could really play (the guitar), if I was younger, had lots of hair, taller and pretty and wasn’t ever going to make any mistakes, I’d be Vince Gill - who is great, and he turns out to be the one who introduces us on the show. Well, that’s weird. And at rehearsal I look out and see this big card that says Chet Atkins is going to be sitting in the front row. I thought, ‘I’m going to be looking at Chet Atkins. Man, I just don’t know if I can do this.”’

Some songwriting brilliance

Kostas, the highly successful Grecian-born Nashville songwriter, wrote one of the field’s finest lines about tractors in his Patty Loveless hit of a few years ago, “On Down the Line.”

The line was “My tractor don’t get no traction.” Asked how he came up with that piece of brilliance, Kostas indicates that he doesn’t remember, but he certainly remembers what happened after he did.

“I think Patty’s brother, Roger Ramey, was managing her at that time, and he got in touch with the John Deere people, and they made her the calendar girl or a spokesman for John Deere that year,” Kostas says.

“So I think Roger ended up with lots of lawn mowers and various things. I didn’t get no riding lawn mower, and I wrote the song - and I got a lot more grass to cut than she (Patty) does. Or he (her brother).” He laughs.

Haggard specials score

Nashville Network Vice President/ General Manager Kevin Hale says he was “delighted but not surprised” that the two-night production “Merle Haggard: An American Story” became the second and third highestrated music specials on TNN in 1994.

According to Nielsen Media Research data, the first night of the Haggard documentary scored a 1.8 rating, representing 1,068,000 homes, while the second evening achieved a 1.9 for 1,113,000 households.