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A Minute With: Billy Ray Cyrus on Miley and his "Hillbilly Heart"

Recording artist Billy Ray Cyrus arrives on the red carpet at the Muhammad Ali Celebrity Fight Night Awards XIX in Phoenix, Arizona March 23
Recording artist Billy Ray Cyrus arrives on the red carpet at the Muhammad Ali Celebrity Fight Night Awards XIX in Phoenix, Arizona March 23

By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - After writing hit song "Achy Breaky Heart," starring in Disney Channel show "Hannah Montana" and raising a famous daughter, country singer and actor Billy Ray Cyrus has found himself at a crossroads.

In his memoir "Hillbilly Heart," published this week, Cyrus writes about his early life in Kentucky, joining his daughter Miley on the 2006-11 TV show that made her a teen idol and how he is still hungry for success despite having moved out of the spotlight.

Cyrus, 51, talked to Reuters about the challenges of raising Miley, his mistakes, and what he wished he had not included in his new book.

Q: Revisiting your life for this book, did you have any revelations about your journey so far?

A: The one thing that was pretty obvious is that I've had a pretty crazy life. It's colorful ... reliving some of those closets that I had shut, locked and thrown away the key intentionally because it was painful to revisit a lot of those places - especially the loss of my buddy Robbie Tooley, the divorce of my parents, some of the things I went through as a kid, a lot of that stuff was locked up for a reason - it was painful. But at the same time, there was some therapy in revisiting some of those spots.

Q: Was it hard to balance how much you wanted to include in your book about Miley's story?

A: I think it would have been hard to write my life story without touching on (hers) somewhat. But at the same time, I respect her privacy and her life, and her world and her life is examined by everybody and everything. For me, I'm very respectful of her privacy, but yes ... I think it would have been missed a bit if I didn't touch on some aspect of it.

I'm respectful that she's a young human being and just being a young person in today's world is tough enough as it is. That makes it hard on a young person let alone be that famous and to live her life in that spotlight. I kind of walked through it respectfully."

Q: You address the controversies you and your wife Tish faced regarding Miley, be it the Vanity Fair photoshoot (showing her only in a bed sheet at age 15) or the video of her smoking out of a bong. Was it difficult reflecting on those?

A: I didn't point a finger. The first thing I do (in the book) is I'm pointing a finger more at myself and saying, learn by my mistakes. I'm not a perfect person so therefore I'm not in any position to tell anyone how to be perfect.

That's what daddies do - sheltering the storm, to be there, to pick you up when you get knocked down ... I'm not a perfect parent and this book is not about how to be perfect at anything. This book is a documentation about what my journey was, some of the mistakes that I made and some of the things that I did right. And every now and then, I think failure is the most ingredient for success."

Q: Why choose to write your book now?

A: I'm hungry for purpose. I'm looking for still that reason that I bought a guitar and started a band, to fulfill a purpose, to manifest destiny as to who I am and why I am the way I am, and what I do. I think it's still about the music, the song and the story.

Q: You sound like you're at crossroads?

A: Crossroads - that is the most accurate ... I'm hungry, I've got a chance to learn more from this than anybody ... I'm standing at a crossroads. I'm not entirely sure what the future holds ... I'm at a crossroads, but it's a little bit different than the crossroads I've been at before because now I'm doing what I do because I love it, and doing what I do because it's pure passion."

Q: Anything you wish you hadn't included in the book?

A: One of the worst things I did was steal a 3D picture of Jesus for my grandmother for Christmas. That's terrible. I'd give anything if I hadn't have done that, but I did ... that story I think I could have left out.

(Reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy. Editing by Jill Serjeant and Andre Grenon)

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