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Country music singer Jason Aldean honors the victims of the Las Vegas shooting by singing 'I Won't Back Down' by the late rock legend, Tom Petty. Wochit

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Kurt Allison, the Iowa-born musician known best as longtime guitarist for country star Jason Aldean, returned to the stage over the weekend for a performance on “Saturday Night Live.”

Aldean and his band appeared on the cold open of “SNL,” the first public showing by the group since the Las Vegas mass shooting. Allison was performing with Aldean at Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas when a gunman, Stephen Paddock, fired into the audience, killing 58 and injuring hundreds more.

Ahead of the band’s “SNL” performance, Aldean delivered a speech to the live television audience.

More: Des Moines guitarist on stage during Las Vegas attack escapes unharmed

"This week, we witnessed one of the worst tragedies in American history," Aldean said. "Like everyone, I'm struggling to understand what happened that night and how to pick up the pieces and start to heal.

Aldean continued: "So many people are hurting — there are children, parents, brothers, sisters, friends that are 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 gonna 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."

The group followed the speech by performing Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” Petty, age 66, died on Oct. 2 of cardiac arrest.

More: Tom Petty brought Des Moines one incredible rock show last summer

Allison, a Lincoln High School graduate, began performing with Aldean in 1999. The Des Moines native resides in Nashville with his family, where he works as a country songwriter when not touring. His songwriting credits include work with Aldean, Thompson Square and Dustin Lynch.

Aldean and his band return to touring on Thursday with a scheduled performance at the BOK Arena in Tulsa.

The USA TODAY Network contributed to this article.

 

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