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Murder on Music Row survivor shares his side of the shocking story

The survivor of the infamous murder on Music Row is telling his side of the story.

The murder that 30 years ago on 16th Avenue uncovered corruption and greed in the music industry.

Country artist Sammy Sadler spent many years as a person of interest in the case.

"I came here to make my mark in Nashville, and Nashville left its mark on me," Sadler told News 2.

Like many aspiring musicians, Music Row is where Sadler came to live out his dream. He was just 21 years old and had several songs on the charts when seven seconds changed his life forever.

"Tragedy struck us that night of March 9th," Sadler began. The year was 1989.

"I've got 100 staples in my arm, I look at that and it takes me right back to that moment," he said. "I can close my eyes and take you step-by-step through it."

Sadler says he was leaving his label Evergreen Records on Music Row with his friend Kevin Hughes, who worked for Cash Box Magazine, when the two came face-to-face with a masked gunman.

"I threw my hands up just to cover my head," Sadler recalled. "I said, 'oh my god this guy's got a gun,' and that's when he shot, and it hit me in my arm. They said Kevin did a barrel roll and started running, and the guy went after him and shot him twice in the back of the head."

Detectives first pointed to Sadler as a person of interest.

"Here it is, I'm shot and bleeding out and dying, and next thing I know I'm being questioned -- and it just went on and on," he said.

Thirteen years later, a jury convicted former record promoter Richard D'Antonio for the murder, which revealed a darker side of Music City --the case pointing to a payola scheme for placement on the magazine's indie country chart as the motive.

"Kevin was an honest person, and he wouldn't take their money, and they shot and killed him over it," Salder said. "He died for country music, and I took a bullet for it."

Sadler began writing a book about his account of that night and the next chapters of his life in the 13-year investigation.

"A Hit with a Bullet" was released this week.

Salder says he is still pursuing his dream as a country artist and plans to release an album soon.


Link to story

30 Years After Infamous Murder on Music Row, Sole Survivor, Country Artist Sammy Sadler Ready to Tell His Story

Indigo River Publishing to Release Autobiographical Mystery-Thriller, "A Hit with a Bullet" on May 21

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (May 1, 2019) — Former top-40 Country artist and survivor of the infamous "Murder on Music Row," Sammy Sadler, is officially returning to the entertainment fold in the same way that he left--with a bullet.

On Tuesday, May 21, Indigo River Publishing will release "A HIT WITH A BULLET," Sadler's long-awaited, first-hand account of his nearly-fatal shooting in the March 9, 1989 assassination of Cash Box chart director, Kevin Hughes, and the career-throttling 13-year investigation that ensued.

A Hit With A Bullet by Sammy SadlerThe autobiographical mystery-thriller, which took over 10 years to complete, chronicles Sadler's remarkable journey from wide-eyed Country music newcomer whose latest single had been marked with a bullet (indicating its fast climb up the chart), to being placed "under suspicion" for a murder that would capture international headlines, including "Entertainment Tonight," "Nancy Grace, "Unsolved Mysteries," in the decade that followed.

Sadler recounts his struggle to overcome debilitating injuries (both physical and mental) as homicide detectives Pat Postiglione (now the star of Investigation Discovery's "Total Redemption") and Bill Pridemore follow various leads, and the hardship of reconciling his passion for Country music and a desire to rebuild his career when their investigation reveals a darker side of Nashville's music industry--one wrought with greed, corruption, payola and murder.

The book, which features a foreword by former Country Weekly editor, Larry Holden, will be available in paperback for $19.95 beginning May 21 via, Indigo River Publishing, and through Sammy Sadler's website at

"You've seen the movies they declare they're "based on a true story." And the television shows that are "ripped from the headlines." This is one of those stories. It is a true story of bribery, betrayal, murder, survival and of justice taking a ride on a slow train--a story written in the blood of a rising country music star and in the blood of his friend."
--Larry, Holden, former Editor of Country Weekly
read the Foreword in its entirety by clicking HERE


Sammy Sadler Secures Management and Booking Representation

Sammy Sadler Secures Management and Booking Representation

Resilient sole survivor of infamous murder on Music Row prepares for new projects

Photo L to R: Sammy Sadler, Cathy Nakos of CN Productions Inc.

Left to Right: Sammy Sadler, Whitney Crabtree of WBA Entertainment

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (April 11, 2019) — Former Country artist and survivor of the infamous "Murder on Music Row," Sammy Sadler, is returning to the entertainment fold the same way he left--with a bullet. Sadler, whose promising career was stopped short on March 9, 1989 when he was shot by former Cash Box magazine employee, Richard D'Antonio, has been working quietly behind the scenes to assemble a team to support a number of projects that will be announced in the coming months.

Sadler secured CN Productions for exclusive management by industry veteran Cathy Nakos, whose clients have included Andy Griggs, Dave Gibson, Hal Bynum, Elizabeth Eckert, Buddy Jewell, Beatlemania 64 Live, and The Ultimate Garth Brooks Tribute, just to name a few.

"Sammy is an amazingly gifted country singer whose career was literally stolen at gunpoint," Nakos explained. "Despite his horrendous ordeal, he has NEVER given up on himself, Nashville, the industry, or his dream. Most people would have walked away. That says a great deal about his character. This business requires not only talent, but resilience...he has both."

Nakos made it one of her first orders of business to secure a booking agency for Sadler, who, from 2012 - 2016, established two successful tours on his own under the title, "Taking the Country Back." These tours produced well over 200 dates and featured co-headliners, Jeff Carson, Ken Mellons, Buddy Jewell and others. Armed with this data, Nakos tapped WBA Entertainment (Larry Carlton, Paul Brown, Remembering Hee Haw, The Highwaymen Live Brothers Brown, Mark Newman, etc.) to represent him.

"Sammy brings a lot to the table," states his agent, Whitney Crabtree. "Not only were we extremely impressed by his talent and his story, but his sheer determination. Not everyone can put together a tour like he did, enlist the talent that he did, and manage all the pieces and parts that go into it," she explains. "With all he did on his own, it's exciting to think what he could do with a great agency behind him. He certainly deserves that chance."

Sadler's ongoing tenacity has allowed him to continue his career in the music industry despite his tragic past. He is currently putting the finishing touches on projects that he hopes will capture the country world's attention once again.

"I am so excited about these projects, one of which I have been working on for over a decade," states Sadler, "The business has changed a great deal since the late 80s and it's taken me some time to wrap my head around it, but, there's a lot of opportunity for guys like me to reach my audience more than ever before. It will be interesting to see how the country community reacts."

In America

On November 10 of last year, Sammy Sadler provided a free copy of his single, “In America” on his website to honor American veterans.

Sammy is reportedly continuing to work on his biography and is back in the studio working on a project. Details of this upcoming project will be announced soon, so be sure to stay tuned!


Sammy Sadler will be filming a music video for his upcoming single, “In America”  in Bonham and Leonard, Texas on August 13th and 14th.

Sammy chose to shoot the video in Fannin County because it truly exemplifies small town America. The video will feature locals from Bonham and Leonard that includes veterans, and the Leonard High School coaches, football team and cheerleaders. Leonard High School is where Sammy attended high school. Sammy is also very excited to be shooting the live performance segment of the video at the Texan Theater in Greenville, Tx.

Sammy’s single, “In America” is due to be released to radio worldwide on September 5th on Labor Day.


New Album

Everything's Gonna Be Alright


Be watching for my new album - Coming in 2016

September 11th, 2015

No Place To Land


To all of my radio friends you can download my new single "No Place To Land" on Play MPE on September 15th.

Takin’ The Country Back Tour

Takin' The Country Back Tour

Be watching for the "Takin' The Country Back  Tour,​ featuring myself, Ken Mellons, and Jeff Carson coming to a venue near you in 2016