Most country music fans are familiar with the famous George Strait and Alan Jackson duet "Murder on Music Row," written by Larry Shell and Larry Cordle. The "murder" in the song was the symbolic killing of traditional country music by modern producers and artists who have murdered the genre by turning it into a pop medium.
In 1989, however, there was a real murder on Music Row. John Clore, music industry worker in the areas of marketing and publicity, at Clore Chronicles provides some information on this event as does Fox News Cold Case Files.
In March, twenty two years ago, Cashbox magazine researcher Kevin Hughes was killed outside a recording studio on Music Row in what some have called an execution style murder. His friend, aspiring country singer Sammy Sadler was also severely wounded in the same attack. Detectives slowly built a case against Richard D'Antonio, who also worked for Cashbox at the time, as the trigger man. The police suspected Tony D, as he was called, and Chuck Dixon, another Cashbox employee, of running a scam operation in which star struck wannabe singers paid them money for pushing their song up the Cashbox rankings. Hughes, who wanted to take a more scientific approach to the Cashbox rankings, either threatened to expose D'Antonio or at the very least resisted their attempts to involve him in the scheme.
The case was stalled for several years but eventually police were able to pressure a known associate of D'Antonio into giving them information about the gun and ammunition used in the attack. Finally, in 2003, Richard D’Antonio, living in Las Vegas at the time, was caught, tried, and convicted of first degree murder (for killing Hughes) and intent to commit second degree murder (the wounding of Sadler). Hughes had apparently refused to take bribes related to the ranking of country songs on his magazine's charts.
And what happened to Sammy Sadler? An article by Mario Tarradell in the Dallas Morning News, November 14, 2009, provides the rest of the story. The article appears on Sammy's blog:
Mr. Sadler, meanwhile, struggled to regain footing. He was the guy in the wrong place at the wrong time. He toured for years after recovering from the shooting, which remained unsolved for more than a decade. When the strain affected him most, he worked with his father in a drywall construction business they still co-own.
Now single, he has no children and lives with his parents on a 58-acre farm in Bonham. He also released Heart Shaped Like Texas, on E1 Music, formerly Koch Entertainment.
Here's a great song from the Heart Shaped Like Texas album--"In America." It definitely sounds like a hit song to me, and in my opinion Sammy Sadler has paid more than enough dues to earn one. I wish him tremendous success with the song and the album, and continued success as he pursues his dream.
I posted this same post yesterday on Country Dirt; if you have a comment about this story, I would greatly appreciate your leaving it over there. I'm gradually building a little traffic at the Dirt site and a comment or two over there would make things look a little more active should anyone new want to leave a comment too. I guess this is the blog version of priming the pump. Thanks.