On Saturday night (Oct. 7), country music star Jason Aldean performed on Saturday Night Live and treated the audience to a special cover of Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker’s “I Won’t Back Down.” It was a surprise performance, considering Sam Smith was the original music guest for the night. However, Aldean used his appearance to make a statement about the mass shooting in Las Vegas the previous Sunday (Oct. 1) and pay tribute to Petty, who died on Monday (Oct. 2).
Prior to his performance and wearing all black, including his cowboy hat, Aldean addressed the pain that many people are feeling after the tragedy at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. He spoke to those in the SNL live studio and those watching on TV from home to emphasize the need to come together to get through this hard time.
“This week, we witnessed one of the worst tragedies in American history. Like everyone, I’m struggling to understand what happened that night, how to pick up the pieces and start to heal,” Aldean said. “So many people are hurting. There are children, parents, brothers, sisters, friends, and they are all part of our family. So i want to say to them: We hurt for you, and we hurt with you. You can be sure that we are going to walk through these tough times together, every step of the way. Because when America is at its best, our bond and our spirit are unbreakable.”
Aldean was on the Route 91 Harvest Festival stage when the violence began in Las Vegas. It left 59 people dead and more than 500 injured. His pregnant wife, Brittany, was also at the festival with him, but fortunately, the couple and their crew were unharmed.
In response to the event and out of respect for the victims, families and fans, Aldean canceledbthree tour dates scheduled for Oct. 6, 7, and 8. His They Don’t Know Tour will resume on Oct. 12.
After his heartfelt speech, he performed a rendition of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down,” honoring the late music superstar who passed away earlier this week. Florida University also paid tribute to Petty between the third and fourth quarters of a football game when the stadium crowd sang along to “I Won’t Back Down.” Petty was born in Pensacola, Florida, and worked for the university for a short time as a groundskeeper.
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