Country music stars Randy Houser, Jordan Walker and Johnny McGuire pay tribute to the "amazing character" and "southern soul" of late rock legend, Tom Petty. (Oct. 4) AP
At least one topic lingered Friday night on the minds of each act performing at Wells Fargo Arena: the sudden death of rock icon Tom Petty.
Part of the All-American Roadshow, country favorite and tour headliner Chris Stapleton addressed the death of the influential songwriter early in his set, dedicating a rendition of "Learning To Fly" in Petty's name.
"I lost a hero this week," Stapleton said.
He and his band performed with Petty and the Heartbreakers last summer, at Wrigley Field in Chicago and at Summerfest in Milwaukee. Petty died Monday, at age 66, of cardiac arrest. Petty performed his last Des Moines show on June 5, as part of the band's 40th-anniversary tour.
"The last thing he said to me before we parted was, 'I hope we get to do a lot more of this' — and that meant the world to me," Stapleton continued, leading the audience into "Learning to Fly."
A Des Moines dedication: Tom Petty brought Des Moines one incredible rock show last summer
Finally, Stapleton asked a favor of the onlookers, "I want you to sing along so Tom can hear you wherever he’s at tonight."
Stapleton got his wish, as the audience led the final chorus of "learning to fly, but I ain't got wings."
The country star performed for 12,512 people at Wells Fargo Arena on Friday night — his first show at the venue. Stapleton and his band played for roughly two hours, bringing a 22-song set to Des Moines' largest indoor stage.
The evening's main support act, Margo Price, paid her respects to Petty by leading her six-piece band through a cover of "Mary Jane's Last Dance." Additionally, show opener Brent Cobb closed his set with a version of "American Girl."