In March of 1989 at.. Evergreen Record's critically-acclaimed newcomer, Sammy Sadler had just spent 7 weeks in the Indie Chart's Top-10, holding at #2 position for several weeks, and breaking into the Billboard Top-50 with his third charted single, "Tell It Like It Is." His debut album and stardom were on the horizon when shots rang out.
Sadler was caught up in the assassination of his friend, Cash Box magazine's chart manager, Kevin Hughes and a payola scandal that would bring down the magazine and rock the music industry. Despite suffering a near-fatal gunshot wound, Sadler remained under suspicion until the murder was solved 13 years later.
In 2004, Sadler released Hard on the Heart on the Tri label. The title track placed in the top-10 on the Texas Music Chart and went No. 1 in Europe for seven weeks. In 2009, Sadler released Heart Shaped Like Texas on Audium Records, which transitioned to Koch Records and eventually sold to E1 Music. Despite rave reviews for singles "I'll Always Have Denver," and "No Place to Land," E1 Music ultimately closed bringing Sadler's label recording career to an end.
As an outlet for his talent and for his fans, Sadler put together the "Taking the Country Back Tour"--the first rendition with Doug Stone in 2012 and another lasting from 2015-2016 with Ken Mellons and Jeff Carson. The tour produced over 200 show dates.
In 2013, record promoter Chuck Dixon, who was suspected of ordering the hit against Hughes, was reported to have died mysteriously in 2013, and triggerman Richard D'Antonio would die in prison in 2014. The passing of both provided a newly found confidence to Sadler, who had spent years looking over his shoulder as a result of the incident.
“A Hit with a Bullet: A True Story of Corruption, Greed, and the Real Murder on Music Row” by Sammy Sadler will be released May 21st, 2019
A shot rings out along Music Row in Nashville. Sammy Sadler, a rising country star at 21 years-old, feels hot blood flow out of the bullet wound in his shoulder. Adrenaline pulsed through him as a pleasant evening with friend and colleague, Kevin Hughes, took a deadly turn. Another shot cries out as a masked figure emerges from the shadows. Sadler is disoriented. The driver of their car makes a mad dash up the road as more bullets pierce the air.
The gunman turns his attention to one man.
Kevin Hughes, Chart Director for Cash Box magazine, was shot dead on March 9th, 1989 in the middle of 16th Avenue. The murderer disappears in the shadows, seemingly getting away with the crime.
The mystery of that fatal night did not fade. It gained attention on national outlets such as "Unsolved Mysteries," "America's Most Wanted," "Nancy Grace," and more. It wasn't until 2003 that former Chart Director for Cash Box magazine, Richard D'Antionio was convicted of the murder.
The closure of the conviction seems to have marked a new chapter for Sammy Sadler. The following year, he released his first album since the murder on music row, HARD ON A HEART. Building on this momentum, Sadler has gone on multiple tours, recorded several new albums, and is taking back all that was robbed of him that one night in 1989.
Today, he has one message...his story is far from over.