Sammy Sadler was on his way to becoming a big time Nashville country music star at the age of 21. But then in March 1989, a corrupt music promoter killed his friend who was a music chart editor and shot Sadler in his right arm.
Several Top 40 and Country Music Hall of Fame stars were working right there on Music Row when it happened. Many people had reason to know of the killer’s motive. But that tight knit clique – many of whom nurture an image of being cool and the salt of the earth to their fans – allegedly kept silent.
In fact, for more than 13 years, Sadler was under the impression that Nashville Police suspected that he was involved though modern crime solving protocols should have ruled him out immediately.
To cope through this ordeal for more than a decade, Sadler devoted his life to Christ and finding joy and meaning in the most trying of circumstances.
Born in Tennessee and raised in Texas, he doesn’t whine, complain, or resent.
Sadler exemplifies the late Charlie Daniels’ “Long Haired Country Boy” lyrics: But I ain't asking nobody for nothin' If I can't get it on my own.
Sadler wrote a book about his experience since the murder, A Hit with a Bullet. We spoke to Sadler by phone. His comments have been edited for clarity.
Why didn’t your parents see to it that you had a lawyer right away after the murder?
The thing is, I never thought I needed a lawyer. My mother called Nashville Police Department several, several times and they never would give her any information. I came from a town of 1,300 people, we saw this stuff in the movies.
Did you ever think of suing Richard D’Antonio, the murderer?
I didn’t know that you could do anything.
Do you ever hear from any of the famous people who were involved with your case, such as Faith Hill?
We didn’t learn that any of these people were involved until we were researching the book.
Are you sure that you want to get back into the music business after your experience?
I never left it! I didn’t create the business or how they do business. It seems like [some people] want to hold a dark shadow over me for what happened. Nobody’s tried to help me, but I’m not going away.
It took me two years and two major operations. I still carry the bullet in my arm. But, to be on stage…(it’s) the fire in you. I just went on the road [preforming my music].
Do you have a promoter?
I’ve got one now. I’ve got the record label promoting me. They’ve hired a publicist. I don’t trust anybody. If I had know then what I know now, I would have swerved a lot of curves. I’ve got an attorney.
Did you have any protection while Richard D’Antonio was still at large?
No, I didn’t.
Do you carry a firearm?
You’re going to lose your Republic of Texas passport!
Why didn’t powerful Nashville businesspeople insist that the police clean up the area? So many shootings [back then]!
I don’t know. Now, it’s nothing but a tourist deal. It was not today’s Nashville.
How has your drywall business changed during the pandemic?
It’s really not slowed down. But with music, Covid has stopped everything. They’re cancelling a bunch of festivals. I hear they’re cancelled until 2022. I don’t think the world will ever be the same.
How did you decide to write a book about your experience?
I thought about it for a long time. Everything’s in God’s time. If I can help anyone with anything . . . God’s changed my life.
For our Newsmax.com readers, here is the exclusive premiere of Sammy Sadler’s new lyric video for “She’s Crazy For Leaving” from his new album, 1989. It’s an upbeat country song originally written by Guy Clark and Rodney Crowell.
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