The cold open of Saturday Night Live nodded to two events that dominated headlines over the past week: the tragic shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, and the death of music icon Tom Petty. Jason Aldean opened the show on Saturday night (Oct. 7) by covering one of Petty's biggest hits, "I Won't Back Down," in a tribute to Petty's legacy and the Vegas victims.
The performance marked Aldean's first since shooting broke out in Las Vegas last Sunday night during the country superstar's set at the festival. The largest mass shooting in U.S. history left 58 dead and nearly 500 injured.
“Like everyone, I’m struggling to understand what happened that night, and how to pick up the pieces and start to heal,” Aldean said to the camera prior to the performance. “So many people are hurting. There are 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.”
With tears in his eyes and full band behind him, Aldean covered the Petty classic before introducing the show. Petty passed away at the age of 66 on Monday.
SNL also featured Sam Smith as the musical guest and Gal Gadot as host.