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.