Jason Aldean Opens ‘SNL’ With Surprise Performance Of Tom Petty’s ‘I Won’t Back Down’ After Las Vegas Tragedy

In light of Sunday night’s tragic shooting in Las Vegas, “Saturday Night Live” forewent its usual political cold open in favour of a powerful message from Jason Aldean.

The country music singer, who was performing when a gunman opened fire on a country music festival, killing 59 and injuring over 500 more, began the late-night sketch comedy show by delivering a heartfelt message, followed by an emotional performance of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” The song choice, obviously notable, given that the legendary singer died the day after the shooting at age 66 after suffering cardiac arrest.

“So many people are hurting… Children, brothers, sisters, parents — they’re all part of our family,” Aldean said before the performance. “We’re gonna work through these tough times together, all the way.”

The appearance comes on the night of one of Aldean’s cancelled shows, which the 40-year-old musician decided not to go forward with in light of the traumatic shooting.

“As a result of what happened in Las Vegas this week, we have decided to cancel this coming weekend’s shows,” Aldean said in a statement of his cancelled shows. “I feel like out of respect for the victims, their families and our fans, it is the right thing to do. It has been an emotional time for everyone involved this week, so we plan to take some time to mourn the ones we have lost and be close with our family and friends.”

Meanwhile, Aldean is not the only artist trying to bring people together after the shooting.

“Saturday Night Live” airs Saturdays at 8:30 p.m. PT/11:30 p.m. ET on Global.

Watch the video below for Celine Dion’s emotional return to the stage.

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