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Watch Jason Aldean’s Tribute to Tom Petty and Las Vegas Shooting Victims on ‘Saturday Night Live’

Country music singer Jason Aldean paid tribute to Tom Petty and the victims of last weekend’s Las Vegas shootings in an emotional opening on Saturday Night Live last night (Oct. 7). You can watch it above. Aldean was performing at the Route 91 Harvest Festival when Stephen Paddock opened fire on the crowd, killing 58 and injuring 498 others.

SNL dispensed with its usual opening sketch for the tribute, which began with the musician making a brief speech. “I’m Jason Aldean,” he said. “This week, we witnessed one of the worst tragedies in American history. 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. 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? It’s unbreakable.”

He then performed Tom Petty’s classic “I Won’t Back Down,” marking the passing of Petty, who died aged 66 on Oct. 2 after suffering cardiac arrest.

But the SNL appearance drew an attack from Dana White, president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, who said Aldean had refused an invitation to appear at his event in Las Vegas on the same night. TMZ reported that White had wanted Aldean to attend, along with “1,500 first responders” and “several victims,” but that the musician’s team rejected the offer, saying he was so shaken that he might never perform again.

“His image was more important than coming back to Vegas and playing for the people who got shot watching him play,” White said. “F— you, Jason Aldean. Stay out of Vegas.”

Soon after having been rushed off stage while Paddock remained at large, Aldean published an Instagram message saying, “Tonight has been beyond horrific. I still don’t know what to say but wanted to let everyone know that me and my crew are safe. My Thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved tonight. It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night.”

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