Entertainment

Jason Aldean Opened 'SNL' with Tribute to Las Vegas Shooting Victims & Tom Petty

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In light of the Las Vegas shooting, which left 58 concertgoers dead and hundreds more injured, Saturday Night Live ditched its usual Trump-focused satire for something more sincere. Last night's show instead began with special guest Jason Aldean -- the country music singer who was on stage at the Route 91 Harvest festival when the gunfire erupted -- paying tribute to the victims of the massacre.

"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."

Though Sam Smith was scheduled to perform as the musical guest later in the night, SNL gave Aldean the floor for his first extended remarks since the incident. "So many people are hurting," he continued. "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. You can be sure that we're going to 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."

Aldean and his band proceeded to cover "I Won't Back Down," the rock hit made popular by Tom Petty, who died Monday after suffering cardiac arrest. You can watch the full performance above.

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Sean Fitz-Gerald is a staff writer at Thrillist Entertainment. Find him on Twitter: @srkfitzgerald.