Country music star John Rich said that politicizing Sunday evening’s shooting massacre in Las Vegas is “just about the most disgusting thing I’ve ever heard of,” during an interview Tuesday on “The Laura Ingraham Show.”
Rich, who performed on stage as part of Big & Rich at the Route 91 Harvest Festival shortly before gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire, pointed to a viral video of the show’s attendees singing “God Bless America” in unison with the group on stage roughly an hour before the chaos began. The people in the crowd held up lights that they waved in the air as they sang. Saying that he was “glad somebody did catch that” unifying moment, Rich said that is wrong to use the subsequent massacre that left 58 people dead and more than 500 injured to divide Americans.
"Every single night, Laura, on our stages for I think it's over a thousand concerts now, we bring active-duty [military] and veterans up onto the stage with us and then we have the crowd, ask the crowd to sing 'God Bless America,'" Rich said. "And that night in Las Vegas, it seemed like — I mean, you've seen the pictures — it looked like literally every single hand out there had their light up over the heads singing at the top of their lungs."
"And I've heard some people try to politicize this whole thing, which is just about the most disgusting thing I've ever heard of," Rich continued. "But there's no politics or religion or race or anything else going on in that crowd when you see them singing. That's just Americans singing about America and loving their country and loving the right that they get to stand out there and listen to music and just be Americans, you know?"
Noting that at the audience members hailed from "literally all over North America," Rich said that "the attack on that crowd was an attack on America."
"And like you said, to go from 'God Bless America' to absolute, utter destruction is just — it's just really a tough thing to get your head around," Rich said.
The country singer recounted how he met one of the Las Vegas massacre victims backstage just an hour before he was shot and killed that night — Sonny Melton, a registered nurse from Tennessee who died while shielding his wife from the gunfire.
"And, you know, I remember seeing this guy in our line with, you know, his eyes got real wide when he walked up to us, and he was like, 'Man, I'm such a big fan,'" Rich said. "And he was so excited to be there at the Big & Rich show. And to know that, you know — that was it, that was his last moments on earth."
Rich also spoke of how he grabbed his concealed carry permit and his Kimber 45 while he waited at the Redneck Riveria bar during the fray before being approached by an off-duty officer. When the officer asked him if he could use his gun to guard the bar's door, Rich handed the weapon over as they waited.
The country music singer spoke of how music has the rare ability to unite people across races, religions, backgrounds, political ideologies and age.
"And music is maybe the only thing out there — I mean, I used to think it was music and sports, and now sports is divisive, the way they're handling that — but now it's really music," Rich said, apparently referring to the recently revamped controversy over whether or not sports players protesting against racial injustice should kneel during the National Anthem before games.
"So music is really the last — it's one of the last common denominators that we all have, is music," Rich said. "We can all enjoy that song or that concert together, and we stop arguing about everything. We just listen and have a good time."
"That video of everybody singing 'God Bless America' — I am just so thankful that somebody got that video, because I can describe that to you as to what was going on before the shooting happened, but seeing it is just so powerful," Rich added.
Urging Americans to "hang onto" those images, Rich said he hoped the video would help Americans to say, "That's us right there in that audience. That's America singing 'God Bless America' at the top of their lungs — that every color, and every religion, and all the different political perspectives represented out there all, singing together in one voice.'"
"That's what we've got to remember when people try to bust us up into all these little groups to get us all fighting all the time. That's not real. What's real is everybody out there singing at the top of their lungs together," Rich continued. "That's real."
(photo credit, homepage image: Keith Hinkle , Flickr)