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Sgt. Barry Sadler

The timing of Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler's number-one smash "The Ballad of the Green Berets" couldn't have been more impeccable. Released in early 1966, when anti-war sentiment was beginning to swell, "The Ballad of the Green Berets" tapped into an enormous wellspring of patriotic fervor among Americans who were tired of the dissent and ambiguity surrounding Vietnam, and desperately wanted confirmation of America's heroism and moral virtue; that they were on the right side. Sadler was the perfect man to supply it: he was himself a member of the Green Berets, the Army's elite Special Forces unit, and a wounded Vietnam veteran who wanted to pay tribute to his comrades in arms. Although "The Ballad of the Green Berets" was the biggest hit single of 1966, Sadler never duplicated its blockbuster success, and soon retired from music to become a successful author.

Staff Sergeant Barry Allen Sadler was born in Carlsbad, NM, on November 1, 1940. His parents divorced when he was very young, and his father died of cancer when Sadler was just seven. His mother managed various restaurants and bars around the Southwest, moving the family wherever she could find work. Sadler first became interested in music at age 12, when he picked up a range of Western and Mexican songs at a logging camp, and began teaching himself guitar; during this period, he also discovered a talent for shooting, and developed a startling accuracy for his age. He quit school after tenth grade and hitchhiked around the country, and then enlisted in the Air Force in 1958. He spent a year in Japan working as an air traffic controller and radar specialist, and, unable to find a job after returning home, he traveled around the West with a friend, playing music at night while working whatever occasional odd jobs they could find. Frustrated, Sadler reenlisted, this time in the Army, and volunteered to become a paratrooper; impressed with his toughness, his instructors recommended him for Special Forces. Sadler earned his green beret and was trained as a medic and weapons expert; he served in several locations around the globe before being ordered to Saigon.

In 1965, while leading a patrol, Sadler was injured by a Vietnamese punji stick (sharpened bamboo covered with feces to increase the chances of infection). The infection did indeed set in, and Sadler nearly had to have his leg amputated. During his recuperation time, he sang and wrote songs for the other wounded soldiers in the hospital. One day, a TV news crew visiting the hospital filmed Sadler singing "The Ballad of the Green Berets"; when the song was aired back home, it became an instant sensation thanks to its themes of courage and achievement in the face of adversity. RCA quickly signed Sadler to a recording contract, and he recorded a full-length album, Ballads of the Green Berets, which was released in early 1966. Finally available as a single, "The Ballad of the Green Berets" was a monster seller, moving over two-million copies in its first five weeks of release; it spent five weeks at number one, winding up the number one single of 1966, and the album topped the charts as well. Sadler's unabashed, romanticized admiration for his fellow soldiers made him a symbol of American patriotism in a turbulent era, despite the fact that his songs didn't really make political or social statements. The Army ate him up, of course, and after several appearances on TV back home, Sadler joined the USO tour for awhile. He scored a minor hit with the follow-up single "The "A" Team," and went on to release two more albums, 1967's Back Home and 1968's The A Team (which, oddly enough, didn't contain that song).

Unable to duplicate his success, Sadler lived in Tucson for a while and tried unsuccessfully to make it as a bar owner. In need of money (he'd donated a substantial chunk of his royalties to a fund for the families of Vietnam casualties), Sadler moved his family to Nashville and tried to reinvent himself as a straight country singer; he did record on occasion, but the material was only released posthumously as Sadler Country. In the mid-'70s, Sadler pled guilty to second-degree manslaughter after shooting a man who'd previously threatened him in a bar (on a dark street, he mistook the man's car keys for a gun). In the late '70s, Sadler became a surprisingly successful military/adventure novelist, creating a series of books (22 in all) based on the character of Casca the Eternal Mercenary (a Roman soldier who supposedly speared Christ on the cross, and was condemned to live until the Second Coming). In 1983, Sadler moved to Central America to train and supply the Nicaraguan Contras, and later settled in Guatemala City, where he sold weapons and transportation to the military. In 1988, while returning to his mountain ranch house in a taxicab, Sadler was shot through the head in a mysterious robbery or assassination attempt (his son Thor believed drug runners were after his cache of guns). Although he survived, Sadler suffered severe brain damage. He was flown back to Nashville by Soldier of Fortune magazine editor Bob Brown, and though he eventually recovered consciousness and speech, he remained in a hospital bed for the rest of his life. Sadler died of heart failure on November 5, 1989. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi
full bio

Comments

In my opinion I think johnny cash and johnny horton were better then him even though they had more albums an loved longer cash lived the longest.He was my dads favorite singer and mine too!THEY ALL WERE GREAT
kitchensfami l y 8 7
This song as and will also make me proud to be an American. I wish that politics would stay off the battlefields of back then and today. War is never a good thing but if we must fight then fight to WIN. Finally to those who have worsen the uniform of freedom no matter what of branch of service Thank you and God Bless You all.
great american korean vet
feliow vet
Marilyn John Gayle a.k.a Johnny Horton died in 1960
His songs are the best!!!! I love the songs and I lessened to quit a few of them!!!!
he is my he row stared in the 1960 thank God for him
mandysetters t o r e
thank you for all who served
Hope that his legond lives forever .Was a bad war but we did what we had to .
had at least 3 albums. Where other 2 albums at. Had Lp's when dad went Vietnam.
one of the very best
Barry Sadler was a good singers as Johnny cash and horton Johnny horton died in 1989 will be rember
He was a true hero
Great song by a great american.
This song I first heard this song on the intro to the move"The green berets"
I agree Nick get the dam rank right my husband was airforce and in Nam,went to clark base and got his head smashed but thank the GOD he made it home; and hearing that song again now bring it all back,
GOD BLESS SSGT B SADLER,
He's not a Sergeant (Sgt), he's a Staff Sergeant (SSgt). For what he sacrificed you can at least get his damned rank correct!
You funny!
ldean259
Brings back memories of another time and place...
LOVE THE GREEN BERETS
jerry1566
sgt sadler is in a SPECIAL place reserved only for HEROES
I bought this album and wore it out. Please play more of the songs
I think they were all good
I can remember this from 1965
I remember this song from when I was a teen. It brought home how it really was back then and it does the same yet today for those old enough to remember. This song also reminds me of how our troops and country were betrayed by Hanoi Jane, an american actress.
sue.dads
This was my dads favorite song. He's been gone over thirty years and I think of him every time I hear it.
makes me cry every time i hear it
He is truly a real American Hero. You could play more of his songs. I was in vietnam when this song came out. Loved it then and love it now. Thank You Sgt Sadler.
Remember them on Monday. 5-31-2010
Brings BACK a time to remember....
YESTERDAY and today...
mkmclrn
Play his album
mark4065
Need more like Mr Sadler.
ballad of the green bertes is all time # 1 song

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