Remember Which Country Music Hall of Famers Passed on ‘Achy Breaky Heart’?
Billy Ray Cyrus shot to overnight success with the release of his debut single, "Achy Breaky Heart," in 1992, but did you know that a group of Country Music Hall of Famers passed on the song before he cut it? The Oak Ridge Boys admit in retrospect that not taking the song for themselves was a major mistake.
Written by Don Von Tress, "Achy Breaky Heart" was pitched to the Oak Ridge Boys before the Marcy Brothers first cut it under the title "Don't Tell My Heart" in 1991. The Oaks had scored some of their biggest hits with lighter, fun fare along those same lines, including "Elvira" and "Bobby Sue," but they decided to pass on the song because "Duane Allen, our lead vocalist, said that he didn’t like the words `achy breaky,'" Oak Ridge Boys singer Joe Bonsall recalled to Country Weekly magazine in 1998 (quote via the Associated Press).
Cyrus was an unknown country singer when he released "Achy Breaky Heart" as the lead single from his debut album, Some Gave All, in March of 1992. The easy-to-remember, ultra-catchy song rocketed to No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart, hitting the top spot on May 30 and remaining there for five weeks. The song launched Cyrus as a superstar, and the Oak Ridge Boys were left to lament a missed opportunity.
"It’s one of the few times we kind of tanked,″ Bonsall said. "Duane still shakes his head about that one today.″
In a tweet to Taste of Country the Oak Ridge Boys clarified the original reporting adding that their record label ultimately made the decision.
Though they missed out on a major hit, the Oak Ridge Boys certainly suffered no long-term career damage. The Country Music Hall of Fame inducted the legendary group in 2015.
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