Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hannah Montana

To gage to success of Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus, you need only to stroll through Wal-Mart. I did the other day, and walked by a display of cereal boxes with her picture on each box, and then by 3 other separate displays of dolls and other accessories dedicated to her. Whew. This girl has already made more money than I will in my entire lifetime. In fact, more than her father, Billy Ray Cyrus in HIS entire lifetime. It's a monument to her charisma, and to our country's obsession with youth. Is there anywhere to go but down for her? Probably so, but in the meantime, she's striking while the iron is hot, and that's what it's all about. You wonder if she'll end up like so many child stars, like Britney Spears and Lindsey Lohan, etc. I hope not. She seems to have a solid foundation with her family, including Billy Ray.

I've met Billy Ray several times throughout the years: When he was a nobody, when he was at the top, and then after the wave of popularity had passed. The thing that struck me about him was that he was the same guy, all the way through.

The first time I met Billy Ray Cyrus, was at the old Time Out Lounge at the Executive Inn as I was preparing for a Telethon of Stars appearance. He and his band of buddies from Eastern Kentucky were playing a bar gig, including several bar standards. It was a nice enough show. Several girls were going nuts over him, but hey, he was a good looking guy. He did announce he was going to play an upcoming single which he planned to release and then launched into "Achy Breaky Heart.' We all started giggling, thinking it was the WORST song we'd ever heard, but hey he was a nice guy and we all had a good time.

A few months later, I was listening to the radio and a song came on. After just a few notes, I already knew what it was. "Achy Breaky Heart." I almost ran off the road. In retrospect, it was a tribute to how good the hook to the song was. I had only heard it once, months ago, but instantly knew what it was.

The next time I saw and met Billy Ray, was in the showroom at the Executive Inn. He was a big star. The thing that struck me about him was that he was still as humble as ever, and even more so, I was struck that his band was the EXACT same band he had earlier in the lounge. They were his friends. In the music biz, when someone hits it bigtime, usually the 1st thing that goes is the "old band." The managers, producers, agents want the artist to have a more professional band of Nashville "hired guns." Bill Ray had stayed true to his guys though. I always thought that was great.

A few years later, I met Billy Ray again at a show. This time, his star was on the way down, but he was the same guy I had met years earlier at the Timeout Lounge, and he STILL had the same band. I thought to myself, here's a guy who's stayed true to himself, and true to his friends and bandmates, the whole way through. There aren't many like that. In fact, he may be about the only one I've met. No doubt, it kept him grounded, and said a lot about what kind of person he was, and what kind of values he had.

I hope he's been able to pass those values on to his daughter, Hanna Montana/Miley Cyrus. Even if she's made more money than her dad, it would be the most valuable thing she could ever receive. In the meantime, I'd really love it if Hannah Montana would record one of MY songs. I promise, I'd stay grounded.....forever!

No comments: