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Jason Aldean pays tribute to Las Vegas shooting victims and Tom Petty on 'Saturday Night Live'

Variety

Jason Aldean, who was performing when shooting broke out during the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas Sunday night, opened "Saturday Night Live" by paying tribute to both the victims of the tragedy -- and Tom Petty.

The show opened with Aldean and his band standing silent on the show's stage.

"This week we witnessed one of the worst tragedies in American history," he 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 out children, parents, brothers, sisters, friends -- they're all part of our family. So I wanna 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."

He then launched his band into a cover of Tom Petty's 1989 anthem of defiance, perseverance and strength, "I Won't Back Down."

Fifty eight people died and more than 500 were injured in the shooting.

On Monday, Aldean posted an anguished note on social media about the fear, "anger, heartache, compassion" and other emotions he's felt in the wake of the tragedy, which killed at least 51 people and wounded more than 500.

"Something has changed in this country and in this world lately that is scary to see. This world is becoming the kind of place that I am scared to raise my children in," Aldean wrote. "We are all humans and we are all Americans and its time to start acting like it and stand together as ONE!"

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