Jason Aldean was on stage when the gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, 2017, killing 58 people and injuring more than 800. Aldean and his crew made it to safety, although one of his band members later found a bullet in his guitar.
Aldean got professional help to overcome the horrifying event, but in hindsight the singer admits he probably should have gone a little longer.
"I probably should have gone to a few more therapy sessions than I did," Aldean acknowledged during a speech at Country Radio Seminar (CRS). "Honestly, for me, being able to talk to my guys, talk to people that I was close to, being able to talk about it to somebody who understood how I was feeling, that helped me tremendously. The other part of that was getting back on stage [and] mentally getting through some shows.”
When Aldean realized there was an active shooter, his first thoughts were of his wife, Brittany, who was somwhere backstage.
“I was confused,” he recalled. “I didn’t know what was going on. My wife was eight months pregnant. That was scary. I didn’t know where she was at. You’re scared, you’re nervous. It was just really chaotic. One of the words I summed it up with was chaos.”
Aldean returned to Vegas less than a week later to visit the shooting victims still in the hospital.
“The hardest thing I’ve ever done was go to Vegas and visit with a lot of the victims,” he said. “I was really glad we went there, but it was tough to sit there and see people who were at our show a few days before. To me, it was gut-wrenching. I felt a responsibility to go there and have some face-to-face time with them and laugh and cry -- whatever they wanted to do.”
"I left with a whole new feeling about the whole thing, and I was so glad I went," he continued. "It was one of those eye-opening, life-changing days that I'll never forget."
Although Aldean is glad he returned, the visits left him with mixed emotions.
“I almost feel guilty that I got out of there without a scratch," conceded Aldean. "It’s really hard to wrap your head around.”
Since the Route 91 Harvest Festival, Aldean has amped up security at all of his shows.0comments
"We stay on top of it every day," Aldean admitted. "We want to make it as safe as we can make it for the fans, and for ourselves."
Photo Credit: Getty images/Jason Kempin