The end of Miley Cyrus’ relationship with her father, the only one she did not dedicate the Grammy to

The family scandals that have paved the singer’s road to success seem to have peaked in the separation of her parents and her ‘forgetting’ Billy Ray in her Grammy acceptance speech

Miley Cyrus
Billy Ray Cyrus and Miley Cyrus performing at Glastonbury in 2019.Ian Gavan (Getty Images)

She has been on the front line of the music industry for years. She has had her own television series, and her fans around the world number in the millions. However, it wasn’t until a few days ago that Miley Cyrus won her first two Grammys — Best Solo Performance and Record of the Year — for Flowers.

This injustice had been bothering her fans for a long time. However, the news that Miley was finally going to be able to display the coveted golden gramophone on her mantle was overshadowed by something that attracted much more attention. What really shook her fan clubs, the social media accounts devoted to the artist and the newsrooms of the American tabloid press took place during the acceptance speech for her second award. “I want to thank everyone that’s standing on this stage right now, Tom, Tyler, Michael and Greg. Our teams, my team, Crush, Columbia, my mommy, my sister, my love, my main gays — ‘cause look how good I look — uh... Anyone else? Your wife, your fiancée... All the people that we love. Thank you all so much, I don’t think I forgot anyone, but I might have forgotten underwear. Bye!” said the artist with her usual sense of humor. The room burst into applause, amused by the joke, and while perhaps many of those present did not realize it, someone had indeed been forgotten: none other than her father, Billy Ray. What was going on? The truth is that this was not the first time that tensions within the Cyrus family have come to light, however veiled.

“I have a very intimate and close relationship with my family,” Miley declared in 2021 to British Vogue. “But like all families, we’re also complex.” Miley did not go into much more detail in that interview but, as we later found out, the family was not going through a good time, mainly due to her parents’ difficult relationship. The problems had been going on for a long time, which would ultimately be reflected by her speech at the Grammys.

Billy Ray Cyrus and Tish Cyrus (Miley’s mother) met at a bar in 1991. He was just a year away from becoming an international star, responsible for taking country music — a genre with minimal popularity outside the United States — to the top of the charts around the world, thanks to the song Achy Breaky Heart. At that time, however, Billy’s life was far from perfect: he was going through a miserable period, living in his car, with nothing to hint at the success that awaited him.

Tish already had two children from a previous relationship, Brandi and Trace, and she had quit drinking. That caught the attention of Billy Ray, whose own experiences with alcohol and addictions, both personal and within his family, had been very traumatic. Miley, their first child together, was born in 1992, just a few months before the couple tied the knot and started a new life in a Tennessee farm, now with a robust bank account thanks to the success of his first single. Their other two children, Braison (1994) and Noah (2000), were born there.

Billy Ray Cyrys, Miley Cyrus
Billy Ray Cyrus with his daughter Miley in 1994.Rick Diamond (Getty Images)

From a very young age, it was clear that Miley had something special and was ready to follow in her father’s footsteps. The opportunity came when she had just turned 11: the young girl auditioned for a Disney Channel series that would become Hannah Montana. She originally had her sights on the role of Hannah’s best friend, Lilly, but due to her qualities as a singer and dancer, they ended up offering her the lead.

Meanwhile, Ray’s musical career was not going through its best moment. Achy Breaky Heart was already a thing of the past and the fans of the genre were not paying much attention to the singer. Perhaps it was that feeling of discomfort with fame what motivated his opposition when Miley was given the opportunity to become an actress. In a 2013 Rolling Stone interview, the pop star talked about the issue, partly justifying her father’s behavior: “I think he just didn’t want me to feel any kind of rejection,” she told the magazine. “He didn’t want me to be hurt by the industry.” That was perhaps the first time father and daughter collided.

Things with Tish were different. The mother of the future Hannah Montana saw in this opportunity a reflection of those that she had missed herself due to anxiety in her youth, when she had aspired to become a dancer. “She could never do this, so she wanted it for me. I get anxiety too,” the artist confessed, “and she didn’t want my anxiety to ever stop me from doing it the way it stopped her.”

That first crack in the relationship between Miley and her father did not evolve. In fact, Hannah Montana helped revive his career: after hiring Miley, Disney reached out to Billy Ray to offer him the role of Hannah’s father, Robby Ray Stewart. He had his doubts because he did not wish to interfere with his daughter’s show, but they had a natural chemistry on screen and he ended up taking the role.

The series, as everyone knows, was a huge hit and made Miley a child star. In addition, Billy became relevant again. He participated in a season of Dancing With the Stars and recorded a very successful country album, Home at Last, which was released by Walt Disney Records, further strengthening his ties with the company.

Miley Cyrus and her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, at the 2009 premiere of ‘Hannah Montana: The Movie.’
Miley Cyrus and her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, at the 2009 premiere of ‘Hannah Montana: The Movie.’ Tim P. Whitby (Getty Images)

“The damn show destroyed my family”

The problems between Miley and her father simmered during the broadcast of Hannah Montana, between 2006 and 2011. As the artist grew older, money and fame flooded family life. Billy and Tish’s marriage also suffered as a result of all these changes, and in 2011 they began divorce proceedings.

Billy Ray left the family home in Los Angeles and moved, alone and devastated, to his old ranch. In an article published that year in the American edition of GQ magazine, titled Mr. Hannah Montana’s Achy Broken Heart, the singer lamented: “Entering this industry, you are now on the highway to darkness,” literally stating, when asked by the reporter, that his family was being attacked by Satan. “There has always been a battle between good and evil. Always will be. You think, ‘This is a chance to make family entertainment, bring families together...’ and look what it’s turned into,” he said. “It destroyed my family. I’ll tell you right now — the damn show destroyed my family.” Then the singer went on to express his wish that the series had never existed.

Billy Ray was clearly in a hole. To make matters worse, the moment coincided with the leaking of a video, made on Miley’s 18th birthday, in which she appeared using a water pipe to smoke what everyone thought was marijuana (it was later revealed to be salvia). Upon seeing the images, he tweeted: “Sorry guys. I had no idea. Just saw this stuff for the first time myself. I’m so sad. There is much beyond my control right now.” However, just when all seemed lost, the divorce suit was dropped and the family got back together.

Leticia Cyrus, Miley Cyrus, Billy Ray Cyrus
Tish, Miley and Billy Ray Cyrus in 2009. Frazer Harrison (Getty Images)

“We ask that you respect our privacy at this time”

Still, things were never the same within the Cyrus family. Although for a few years the storm seemed to have calmed down, in 2013 Tish once again filed a lawsuit to divorce Billy Ray. “This is a personal matter and we are doing what is in the best interest of our family. We ask that you respect our privacy at this time,” Tish stated in a press release. Meanwhile, as Miley’s career skyrocketed, her number of fans grew — as well as her detractors, thanks to scandals such as her much-talked-about performance with Robin Thicke at the MTV Video Music Awards.

The divorce was called off again just a couple of months after being filed, and for a few years everything seemed to be working out. However, in these comings and goings, it is easy to imagine the gap between Miley and her parents widening — which takes us to the moment when the artist stopped following her father on Instagram.

Billy Ray Cyrus, Miley Cyrus
Billy Ray Cyrus and Miley Cyrus in 2021.Peacock (NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

The epilogue (so far)

In April 2022, Tish asked Billy Ray for divorce again. This time it would be final. After almost 30 years of marriage, a decade of conflicts and two years of living apart, the iconic marriage came to an end. This, as happens in all families, caused a cataclysm, with the children taking sides. Although her reasons have never been entirely clear, Miley completely aligned with her mother, unfollowing her father on Instagram and acting as her mother’s maid of honor last year when she married actor Dominic Purcell (Lincoln Burrows in Prison Break).

Billy Ray did not waste any time, either, and in October 2023 he married Australian singer Firerose, 27 years his junior. This could have been the last straw in the father-daughter relationship, ultimately causing her to “forget” him in her Grammy acceptance speech. However, neither of them has commented on the matter. Taking the family’s history into account, this will probably not be the last chapter of their relationship.

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