Chris Stapleton and Emmylou Harris performed an emotional tribute to the late Tom Petty at the 2018 Grammys

By Mike Miller
January 28, 2018 10:50 PM

Tom Petty received an emotional tribute at the 2018 Grammys.

Chris Stapleton and Emmylou Harris performed a special, emotional, country-style duet of Petty’s classic “Wildflowers” in honor of the late sing-songwriter — a performance that kicked off the evening’s In Memoriam segment.

Stapleton, 39, tells PEOPLE it was “my favorite album of all time.”

“It was really hard for me [to perform]. I got to be on tour with him this past year,” he says, referring to the three shows he performed with Petty at Wrigley Field in Chicago, and two concerts at Summerfest in Milwaukee.

“I had a brief conversation with Tom. He was very kind,” Stapleton continues. “And the last thing he said to me was, ‘I hop we get to do this again, more of this.’ Boy, that was such a thrill to me, because I’m such a huge fan of all of his work.”

During his performance, Stapleton admits that he was “tearing up a bit before I walked on to do that.”

“It’s tough,” he adds. “We lost a lot of great artists this year.”

Petty’s longtime friend Stevie Nicks started to choke up as she gave a touching speech about her late friend during a pre-Grammys tribute event on Friday.

“The loss of Tom Petty has just about broken my heart,” Nicks, 69, said at the MusiCares Person of the Year event honoring Fleetwood Mac at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

Earlier in January, it was revealed that Petty died of an accidental drug overdose.

In a statement posted on the late singer’s website, his family said the 66-year-old had been using a number of medications, including opioid pain medication fentanyl.

Tom Petty
DAVID X PRUTTING/Patrick McMullan/Getty

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Petty died of “multi-system organ failure” caused by “mixed drug toxicity,” according to the autopsy report released by the Los Angeles County Coroner. During an examination on Oct. 3, the medical examiner found fentanyl, oxycodone, temazepam, alprazolam, citalopram, acetylfentanyl and despropionyl fentanyl. Petty was also suffering from coronary artery atherosclerosis and emphysema.

“Our family sat together this morning with the Medical Examiner – Coroner’s office and we were informed of their final analysis that Tom Petty passed away due to an accidental drug overdose as a result of taking a variety of medications,” Petty’s family said in a statement, signed by widow Dana and daughter Adria, 42.

Petty’s longtime manager previously released a statement at the time of the musician’s death explaining that Petty suffered cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu, California, on Oct. 2 and was taken to UCLA Medical Center but could not be revived.

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“Unfortunately Tom’s body suffered from many serious ailments including emphysema, knee problems and most significantly a fractured hip. On the day he died he was informed his hip had graduated to a full-on break and it is our feeling that the pain was simply unbearable and was the cause for his overuse of medication,” the family said in their January statement.

“We knew before the report was shared with us that he was prescribed various pain medications for a multitude of issues including fentanyl patches and we feel confident that this was, as the coroner found, an unfortunate accident,” the family continued.

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“As a family we recognize this report may spark a further discussion on the opioid crisis and we feel that it is a healthy and necessary discussion and we hope in some way this report can save lives. Many people who overdose begin with a legitimate injury or simply do not understand the potency and deadly nature of these medications,” the Petty family said.

They added, “On a positive note we now know for certain he went painlessly and beautifully exhausted after doing what he loved the most, for one last time, performing live with his unmatchable rock band for his loyal fans on the biggest tour of his 40 plus year career. He was extremely proud of that achievement in the days before he passed.”

The 60th annual Grammy Awards, hosted by James Corden, were broadcast live on CBS from Madison Square Garden in New York City.

  • With reporting by MAGGIE PARKER