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BILLY RAY HOPING NEW ALBUM WILL PROVE THAT HE’S NO ACHY BREAKY `1-HIT WONDER’

SHARE BILLY RAY HOPING NEW ALBUM WILL PROVE THAT HE’S NO ACHY BREAKY `1-HIT WONDER’

OK, "Achy Breaky Heart" has come and gone.

Travis Tritt hated it, Bruce Springsteen loved it. Billy Ray Cyrus has to try to follow it up.There was a TV special, a Dolly Parton video. The tabloids dissected his personal life. Some believed Cyrus was a limited talent, the good-looking beneficiary of a master hype campaign by the brain trust at Mercury Records.

"For the longest period of time during the whole second half of 1992, people were really asking the questions about the `one-hit wonder' and `what do you do to follow this up?' " Cyrus, 31, said during an interview at his manager's office, looking fit and tan and wearing an ever-revealing T-shirt.

"I couldn't help those thoughts getting inside of me of, `What if? What if this? What if that?' "

And there were the temptations of success to consider, which Cyrus said he rejected.

"I never sat and relished in those things. I never sat and looked at my trophies and my plaques," Cyrus said.

"I figure some day if I live long enough I'll sit and be like Daffy Duck on that cartoon where he hit all that gold and just rolled in it."

A quotation included in the notes of Cyrus' sophomore album, "It Won't Be the Last," provides the singer's reaction to the pressures:

"I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor."

The quote comes from Henry David Thoreau, who surely would have needed time to ponder the meaning of "Achy Breaky Heart," and sums up the philosophy Cyrus has studied for years in motivational books.

To Cyrus, it means maniacal work habits and an unshakable belief in himself. His music drips blood and sweat. Billy Ray Cyrus may not be the most gifted kid in the class, but he won't be outclassed when it comes to determination.

"I'm a very focused person from where I've studied men like Thomas Edison," Cyrus said. "I've learned that where the people have no vision, they perish.

"I know if I don't stay focused on what I want - if I started thinking about what everybody else out there wanted me to think about . . . then I wouldn't be living my life. I would be living theirs.

"So I believe that I am intelligent enough to use what got me to this point. That's visualization and focusing on what I want and the dreams I have. I just let all those other things go down the sewer where they belong."

So will all this hard work, visualization, etc., pay off without an innovative marketing effort such as the one behind "Achy Breaky Heart"? There aren't any plans for another country dance promotion like the phenomenally successful one for the big hit, Mercury officials said.

Instead, Cyrus has the advantages of superstardom on his side. The new release will be featured on "Entertainment Tonight," "Good Morning America" and "Arsenio Hall." Cyrus calls himself the new Frito Bandito, because the maker of corn chips and other snacks is sponsoring his tour.

Phil Donahue will host an hour special on Cyrus in July. And a 90-minute radio interview-music special on the new album is being provided free by the record label to more than 2,000 radio stations.

And the music? Well, Cyrus and his producers wisely avoided an "Achy Breaky Heart" retread. "Achy Breaky" author Don Von Tress, though, is represented four times on the new album.

The highlight is the Cyrus-Von Tress song "When I'm Gone," in which Cyrus faces up to comparisons with Elvis Presley.

Cyrus and The Jordanaires, the vocal quartet that frequently backed Presley, do a restrained performance on the tune, reminiscent of "Are You Lonesome Tonight?"

The rest is high-energy Cyrus. He brushes the edges of bellowing but never gets into dangerous Michael Bolton territory.

The bouncy "Achy Breaky Heart" was a summer sensation a year ago. It thrust Cyrus, an unknown but charismatic former used-car salesman from Flat-woods, Ky., into the national spotlight.

"A song like `Achy Breaky Heart' only comes around once every so often. To try and mimic that would be foolish," Cyrus said.

Can this positive thinker even conceive of his new album failing to sell and his stardom slipping away? There are more than enough skeptics who think that will be his fate.

"Anything is possible in this business," Cyrus said.

"What is important is the integrity of the music is there, whether or not it sells nine million copies. I'll be happy if it sells 1 million. I'll be happy whatever it does."

And he'll keep working. After a decade-plus of struggling before he hit, Cyrus says he's at a crossroads.

"Did I take it and use it for good or did I squander it? Did I pull the old Daffy Duck and roll around in it? I feel it's very important now to just use my life for as many good things as I can," he said.

"I'm on a roller coaster standing up in my seat with no seat belt on in the middle of a hurricane."

Cyrus says that with a glint in his eye, like there's no other place he'd rather be.