Jason Aldean Opens SNL With Petty’s ‘I Won’t Back Down’

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Jason Aldean on SNL, October 7, 2017

Saturday Night Live offered an unexpected cold open, as it’s known, tonight (Oct. 7) with a surprise–and welcome–appearance by country singer Jason Aldean, the performer who was on the stage last Sunday night (Oct. 1) when a killer shot and murdered 58 concertgoers and wounded hundreds more at a concert in Las Vegas. As the show began, Aldean spoke from the heart:

“I’m Jason Aldean. This week we witnessed one of the worst tragedies in American history. Like everyone, I’m struggling to understand what happened that night and how to pick up the pieces and start to heal. So many people are hurting. There are children, parents, brothers, sisters, friends… they’re all part of our family. So I just want to say to them we hurt for you and we hurt with you. And you can be sure that we’re gonna walk through these tough times together every step of the way. Because when American is at its best, our bond and our spirit… it’s unbreakable.”

He and his band then launched into a moving version of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.”

Shortly after the Oct. 1 Las Vegas shooting, Aldean wrote, “Tonight has been beyond horrific. I still don’t know what to say but wanted to let everyone know that Me and my Crew are safe. My Thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved tonight. It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night. #heartbroken #stopthehate”

Petty died on Oct. 2 and his “I Won’t Back Down” has become a favorite of his fellow musicians as a way of paying tribute to the beloved performer. From his bandmates to his peers, Petty’s passing is marked by an outpouring of love and respect.

Related: John Fogerty, Coldplay, and numerous other musicians are paying tribute to Petty by performing his songs

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