October 27, 2010 / 9:07 PM / 9 years ago

Billy Ray Cyrus and wife file for divorce

Producer Tish Cyrus (R) and her husband Billy Ray Cyrus pose at the premiere of "The Last Song" at the Arclight theatre in Hollywood, California March 25, 2010. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Country singer Billy Ray Cyrus and his wife Tish, the parents of teenage pop star Miley Cyrus, have filed for divorce in Tennessee after 17 years of marriage, the pair told People magazine on Wednesday.

“As you can imagine, this is a very difficult time for our family,” Billy Ray and Tish Cyrus said in a joint statement to the celebrity magazine. “We are trying to work through some personal matters. We appreciate your thoughts and prayers.”

Representatives for the couple were not immediately available to comment further.

“Achy Breaky Heart” singer Billy Ray Cyrus and Tish have five children including Miley, who became a teen sensation on her “Hannah Montana” Disney Channel television series and has built on that success with a singing career.

In the show, Cyrus portrayed Hannah Montana, a normal teenager by day, but really a singing star by night. As the wholesome program grew in popularity, Cyrus followed in her father’s footsteps to build a career as a singer.

The teenager became a huge star for young women and released solid albums such as “Best of Both Worlds” and “Breakout.” A concert film, “Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour,” took in $70 million at global box offices and a follow-up narrative film, “Hannah Montana The Movie” earned $155 million worldwide.

But as Miley, who turns 18 years-old next month, grew older, she became the subject of some public scorn for sexualizing her squeaky clean image as Hannah Montana first in a racy Vanity Fair photo shoot and then showing some raunchy dance movies in videos.

Billy Ray Cyrus has staunchly defended his daughter in the face of criticism. He broke into the music world with his 1992 hit “Achy Breaky Heart,” and his handsome face and hunky good looks brought him female fans around the world.

While several albums and numerous songs followed, Cyrus seemed to be on track to become a one-hit sensation when he began starring alongside his daughter on the “Hannah Montana” TV show, portraying her father.

Editing by Jill Serjeant

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