Jason Aldean Honors Route 91 Victims, Tom Petty On SNL

Jason Aldean surprised a live TV audience with a performance of “I Won’t Back Down” to open “Saturday Night Live” – days after the Las Vegas mass shooting during his set at Route 91 Harvest festival as well as in tribute to Tom Petty.

Jason Aldean SNL
SNL via Twitter
– Jason Aldean SNL
Jason Aldean opens SNL

Rather than the show’s traditional cold open, Aldean and his band stood on the SNL stage in silence before ripping into the classic Petty song of defiance. The program aired live nationally, as has been SNL’s practice since late in its last season.

“This week we witnessed one of the worst tragedies in American history,” Aldean said. “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: they’re our children, parents, brothers, sisters, friends – they’re all part of our family.

“So I want to say to them: We hurt for you and we hurt with you, but you can be sure 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.”

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Aldean has become one of country’s brightest stars in the last 10-plus years, averaging almost 17,000 tickets sold per show and accounting for more than one-third of a billion dollars in gross sales over the course of his career. His current tour with Chris Young, including some dates with Kane Brown and Dee Jay Silver, continues through October.  Aldean is also included in an all-star lineup at the Country Rising benefit concert at