In the cold open spot usually filled with political satire, Aldean, in black shirt and a black cowboy hat, looked into the camera and said:
“I’m Jason Aldean. 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 – 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, and you can be sure 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 is unbreakable.”
Aldean was performing at the Route 91 Harvest festival on the Las Vegas Strip Sunday when a sniper opened fire and killed at least 59 people and wounded nearly 500.
Aldean’s SNL tribute was also a poignant nod to Petty, who died at 66 on Monday after suffering cardiac arrest. Earlier tonight in the 10 pm ET SNL “encore” spot, NBC aired a 1979 Buck Henry-hosted episode featuring Petty as musical guest.
— Saturday Night Live (@nbcsnl) October 8, 2017
And in an odd coincidence, the musical guest on tonight’s Gal Gadot-hosted episode is Sam Smith, who agreed two years ago to credit (and pay) Petty and Jeff Lynne as co-writers of Smith’s hit “Stay With Me” after Petty’s publishing company said the song’s chorus was too similar to “I Won’t Back Down.”