Choosing Family Over Fame and Fortune

ByABC News
March 11, 2004, 9:06 PM

March 13 -- What would you do if you had to choose between almost unimaginable fame and family? What if you had to decide between the lure of country stardom and your heart?

Billy Ray Cyrus was once faced with that choice. In 1992, his song "Achy Breaky Heart" took him on what he calls a "rocket ride" and made him $40 million in one year.

Cyrus had come from rural poverty. He was so poor he lived in his car, but now he had hit the music jackpot.

Suddenly wealthy, instantly famous, he bought 500 acres of property outside Nashville. He handed out brand-new Harleys to his band. "Achy Breaky Heart" seemed to be on every radio, the Achy Breaky line dance in every country bar. His hometown of Flatwoods, Ky., even added his name to its welcome sign.

"I absolutely felt my butt strapped to a rocket and was going around the world, catching airplanes, you know, going from one spot to another, and doing all these crazy things," Cyrus told Primetime's John Quinones. "I went around the world I don't know how many times in that rocket ship."

Literally thousands of women wanted a moment with country music's new heartthrob and he wasn't saying no.

"1992 was one of the hardest years of my life just because of that change," said Tish Finley, who had been with Cyrus before he hit the big time. She appears in the "Achy Breaky" video.

"He was playing to 50, 60, 100,000 people, you know? And there was just women everywhere."

Doing Whats Right

Cyrus said that at the time, he was ending a romance with one woman and starting another with Finley. But then came news that would change everything: Both women were pregnant with his babies, at the same time.

Finley remembers when Cyrus told her another woman was also carrying his child. "He came to me and just, you know, said that we needed to talk and he immediately thought that I would leave," she said.

Desperate to keep Finley, Cyrus was at a crossroads. He says for the first time he was forced to take a close look at the life he'd worked years to achieve.