In a revealing interview in the new issue of GQ magazine, Billy Ray Cyrus talks about how he felt when he saw the video of daughter Miley Cyrus smoking a bong on her 18th birthday and his belief that her star-making turn in the Disney show “Hannah Montana” helped wreck his family.
“My kids learned to color on this table,” Cyrus tells the interviewer about the table at which he was sitting when he first saw the video. “There’s been a lot that’s went around this table. Waylon Jennings sat right there in that chair and showed Miley the chords to ‘Good Hearted Woman.’ Sitting in that chair. This table’s a bit like life. It’s a circle. And I believe everything in life is a circle. You come into this world a little teeny wrinkled-up fetus …”
Cyrus, who is in the midst of attempting a musical comeback, stresses that he “never made a dime off Miley” in the lengthy chat, in which he also clarifies that he’s not her manager, though he played one on “Montana.”
As for Miley’s now infamous 18th birthday bash, Cyrus said he didn’t want to go because he was tired of taking the blame in the press every time his daughter did something outrageous. “You know why I didn’t go? Because they were having it in a bar,” he said. “It was wrong. It was for 21 years old and up. Once again all them people, they all wanted me to fly out so that then when all the bad press came they could say, ‘Daddy endorsed this stuff. …’ I started realizing I’m being used. If I would have went out there, I would have been right in the middle of all this stuff that’s going on right now with the bong. They’d be hanging it on my ass. I had the common sense … I said, ‘This whole thing’s falling apart up there and they just want to blame all of this stuff on you again.’ I’m staying out of it.”
When Miley’s handlers were scrambling to try to head off the bong photo scandal in the days afterward — trying to “make kids’ computers disappear and their phones disappear” — Billy Ray said he was told it was “none of my business.”
He now realizes, he said, that instead of trying to be Miley’s friend, he should have been her parent more often and warned her to slow down. “Honestly, I didn’t know the ball was out of bounds until it was way up in the stands somewhere,” he said. “Season four, it was a disaster,” Cyrus said of the January 2010 start of “Montana.” His marriage was falling apart, along with his family.
“I’ll tell you right now — the damn show destroyed my family,” he added.
Billy Ray did not speak to her in the weeks after the bong video went viral, but he made sure via text that she knew he was supporting her. “You know what, there’s no doubt I did stuff when I was a teenager that I’m sure could have turned out horribly,” he said. “I’ve done some stupid crap — I do stupid crap. We all do. But it’s different when you sit back and you see it happening to your little girl. I feel like I got to try. It’s my daughter. And some of these handlers are perhaps more interested in handling Miley’s money than her safety and her career.”
Cyrus said he’s scared because he believes there are people around his daughter who are putting her in a “great deal of danger.” He recalled how he became friendly with Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain in the early 1990s when they met backstage at a venue and how they bonded then over the recent birth of their daughters.
“One more thing about Kurt — Kurt was one of those guys. That’s why I’m concerned about Miley. I think that his world was just spinning so fast and he had so many people around him that didn’t help him,” he explained. “Like Anna Nicole Smith — you could see that train wreck coming. I was actually trying to reach out to Anna Nicole Smith, because I kept telling [ex-wife] Tish and everybody around me, going, ‘This is a disaster.’ Michael Jackson — I was trying to reach out to Michael Jackson. I knew he had kids, and I was going to invite his kids down to a taping of ‘Hannah’ — I just felt it would be good for Michael. I don’t know why. I met Michael one time at the Grammys. He sat in front of me, in the front row, and a dime rolled out from under and hit my boot — this very boot I’ve got on — and I reached down and picked up this dime, and looked, he was going through his pockets, and I said, ‘Are you looking for this?’ ‘Thank you.’ And he took that dime and put it back in his pocket. I looked at my manager, I just said, ‘Why did Michael Jackson have a dime? …’ Nobody could tell me.”
Asked if he thinks his daughter is headed in the same tragic path as Cobain, Jackson and Smith, Cyrus said, “I don’t know. I’m her daddy so maybe I’m a little sensitive to it, but now’s a real good time to make sure everything’s OK. An ounce of prevention’s worth a pound of cure.”