Sammy Sadler’s story, one he is recounting firsthand in a new book, is one of those cautionary tales about life in the corporate music fast lane. Sadler, a breakout country artist in the late 1980s, had every reason to expect success in his industry.
His voice commanded a wide range and his voice had something lacking in so many–character and uniqueness. He had the looks, and his songs were charting nicely. Then came the night when he and his friend Kevin Hughes were leaving Sadler’s record label offices. A gunman emerged from the shadows, killing Hughes and seriously wounding Sadler.
Though a song by the same name would chart, the murder mystery is often referred to as the ‘Murder on Music Row’. The song wasn’t about the murder. It was about the pop takeover of country music.
Hughes was an employee of Cash Box magazine, a print publication that had figured heavily in success for a number of celebs. Hughes allegedly had come to realize there was corruption in determining how songs charted—a certain amount of cooking the books seemed to be going on.
It would take 13 years for the murder of Kevin Hughes to be solved. He was only 23 years old the night he died after the gunman shot him—the last two bullets were pumped directly into Hughes’ head.
As a result of injuries suffered and wild speculation about his potential involvement in the crime, Sadler’s career was derailed. Sadler was cleared of the crime, but the damage was done.
The story has been told on various true crime programs on TV, but now Sadler’s book A Hit With a Bullet brings the public a firsthand account of that tragic night and the people involved in the shootings as well as those who danced around the perimeter.
The corporate entertainment world has long suffered from allegations (many proven) of corruption. The state of what I call Tinseltown (no specific geographic location) has included corruption dating to long before my own birth. That isn’t to say everyone in the industry is corrupt, but I’d wager corruption is far more widespread than any of us know in today’s tech-governed world.
Sadler’s career was derailed through no fault of his own. Hughes’ life was taken, presumably because he was about to expose the seedy side of the industry he loved. Nashville Scene has an excellent account of circumstances around Sadler’s injuries and Hughes’ murder.
I look forward to reading and reviewing Sadler’s book. You can keep up with Sadler on his Facebook page.
I remember this murder and coverage in media. I still can’t fathom why it took so long for it to be solved.
*Thanks to Saving Country Music for highlighting this book so we could learn about its publication.
(Kay B. Day/May 10, 2019)