Jason Aldean Opens 'SNL' With A Touching Tribute To The Las Vegas Shooting Victims & Tom Petty — VIDEO


The Oct. 7 episode of Saturday Night Live did not begin with its usual cold open featuring Alec Baldwin as President Donald Trump. Instead, country singer Jason Aldean appeared on SNL to sing a tribute to the Las Vegas shooting victims and late musician Tom Petty. As a reminder, Aldean was on stage at Las Vegas' Route 91 Harvest country music festival on Sunday, Oct. 1 as gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire on the crowd from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Aldean was captured on video running off stage for cover when the gunshots began.

The Las Vegas tragedy became the deadliest mass shooting in American history, killing 58 people and wounding around 400. On Saturday night's SNL, Aldean took the stage for the first time since the mass shooting and paid tribute to the victims of the mass shooting. In a short speech to the audience, he said:

After his opening remarks, Aldean proceeded to perform Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers' classic song "I Won't Back Down" in a perfect tribute to the Las Vegas shooting victims and Petty, who passed away on Monday, Oct. 2 at age 66. Petty suffered cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu and he was rushed to UCLA hospital, where he died that evening.

"I Won't Back Down" was a touching choice not only because the track is by Petty, but due to the song lyrics' message. The hit tune, which was released in 1989, is about being strong as you face adversity. According to Daily Kos, Petty wrote the song in the late 1980s after enduring a legal battle over one of his songs being used in a B.F. Goodrich commercial without his permission and his housing burning down.

As a refresher, the lyrics include:

Before his death, Petty had performed the song during the finale of his 40th anniversary tour with The Heartbreakers at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. The late musician, a Florida native, dedicated "I Won't Back Down" to "Everybody who is struggling to get it together around the world and across the country: Houston, down in Florida, and we must not forget Mexico."

Aldean's cover of "I Won't Back Down" on SNL was pitch perfect and an incredibly moving way to end a tough week. It's hard not to want to break out the tissues as you realize Aldean did not get to finish his last performance due to the violent attack and, in a sense, SNL has given him a chance to do so.

On Oct. 2, Aldean had posted several tributes to the victims of the Las Vegas shooting on his Instagram account.

In one such tribute, Aldean wrote:

You can watch Aldean's SNL performance in the following video.

Saturday Night Live on YouTube

Aldean's SNL tribute further showed his support for those touched by the Las Vegas tragedy.