As colorful images of flowers flashed on screens behind them, the two Nashville singers blended their voices on the title track to Petty’s 1994 Wildflowers album, a song that stands as one of the late rock icon’s most country-leaning tunes. Stapleton and Harris’s performance set up the annual In Memoriam segment, which recalled the musical heroes we lost over the past year.
Petty, a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, died at age 66 on October 2nd. His death was recently ruled the result of an accidental overdose. Just a few months earlier, Stapleton opened three summer concert dates on Petty and the Heartbreakers’ 40th anniversary tour. In the days following Petty’s death, both Stapleton and Harris performed Petty’s songs as an homage at separate events: Stapleton sang “Learning to Fly” at one of his concerts, while Harris joined Dave Matthews and others for “Refugee” at a benefit gig in Seattle.
Stapleton won all three awards for which he was nominated at this year’s Grammys, including Best Country Album for From A Room: Volume 1. Harris is a 13-time Grammy winner, with her last trophy coming in 2013 for Best Americana Album, for her collaboration with Rodney Crowell, Old Yellow Moon.