Jason Aldean opens SNL, covers Tom Petty classic “I Won’t Back Down”

Country music singer Jason Aldean, who was on stage at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas when a gunman opened fire on a crowd of more than 20,000 and killed at least 58 people, made his first appearance since the tragedy.

The atrocious event which left over 500 individuals injured, has been blanketed in mystery and left Las Vegas and the rest of the nation stunned in its wake.

Aldean took to the Saturday Night Live stage with a tribute to the victims and survivors of the Vegas massacre. His performance made for a mix of both poignancy and strength as he chose to cover Tom Petty’s classic “I Won’t Back Down.”

Petty died on October 2, at the age of 66, leaving yet another void in American rock and the entire music industry.

For Aldean, the SNL appearance sends a clear message – that tragedy does not equal defeat. Beyond that, Jason Aldean steered clear of making any political statements.

The singer’s opening words echoed what many feel, but have trouble expressing, “So many people are hurting. There are children, parents, brothers, sisters, friends that are all part of our family.” He continued, “So, I want to say to them we hurt for you and we hurt with you. You can be sure that we’re gonna walk through these tough times together every step of the way because when America is at its best, our bond and our spirit, is unbreakable.”

Aldean acknowledged that he too is struggling to understand what happened the night of October 1 and how to keep going and start to heal. His performance – as well as the presence of his band members – was a brave and uniting move.

The show continued with the typical late-night comedy sketches and satire that SNL is known for.

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