By: Renee Grant
As we struggle to cope with the events of the tragic mass shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday night (October 1st), more acts who were a part of the 91 Harvest Festival are speaking about the harrowing experience. Country stars Big & Rich have now spoken up with their account of the incident.
Big Kenny Alphin and John Rich took the stage just under two hours before the shooting, which occurred during Jason Aldean‘s headlining set. The gunman, Stephen Paddock, killed 59 people and wounded more than 500 others before taking his own life in his hotel room.
“We played the show about 90 minutes before Jason Aldean,” Rich tells Extra. “We had actually gone to a bar I own in Las Vegas to play a little after-show, and they tapped us on the shoulder and said there were active shooters at the 91 festival.”
“We thought there were multiple shooters at hotels,” he continues, saying they started to call friends and family. “I was able to get one guy on the phone, Dee Jay Silver… I couldn’t believe he answered the phone. Glad he did, he said, ‘They just threw me in the back of a pick up and we’re racing down the road getting everyone out of here.’ Found out his son, 6-months-old son, and nanny were sleeping in the room next door to the shooter on the 32nd floor. You talk about horrifying, I do not know what compares to that.”
“Every room in that hotel practically had the most stellar views of the venue,” Big added. “We sat there in our room, right under the floor the shooter was in last night, and watched people come into the venue… Now, it’s just shock and just heartbroken.”
Rich went on to say, “It was intense. Kenny stepped off the bus as a SWAT team was coming straight at him… Our band, people in my bar, they were trying to get people on the phone ’cause they just came from the show. There were people weeping, sobbing screaming.”
Big remarked, “For blocks and blocks down the Strip there were people running scared.” He also praises first-responders saying, “They were on it quick.”
While the pair have been able to reach many of their peers in the aftermath, they say they have yet to have a chance to speak with Aldean.
In the end, Big sums up our feelings in one sweet sentiment, “Fear will not overcome us — what we do is too beautiful.”