The 2017 CMT Music Awards began by honoring one of music's recently deceased iconic names: Wednesday night's (June 7) show opened with a special tribute to the late Gregg Allman.

From a darkened stage, Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum‘s Charles Kelley and Darius Rucker harmonized, a cappella, on a few lines of the Allman Brothers Band's "Midnight Rider."

"This is for the one and only Mr. Gregg Allman," Aldean proclaimed, before the country stars descended to a larger stage, where a backing band and Derek Trucks were waiting for them. The three artists traded verses of "Midnight Rider" while Trucks -- a former Allman Brothers Band member -- added in a stellar guitar solo.

CMT President Brian Philips says that the Allman tribute performance came together because, after Allman’s death on May 27, artists began inquiring about honoring him during the awards show.

Country Artists Pay Tribute to Gregg Allman

Aldean and Kelley are among those who paid their respects to Allman in the days following his death at the age of 69: Kelley and his Lady A bandmates performed “Midnight Rider” during a concert, while Aldean — a native of Macon, Ga., where the Allman Brothers Band formed — posted a heartfelt tribute to Allman (“one of my heroes,” Aldean calls him) on Facebook.

Allman “passed away peacefully at his home in Savannah, Ga.” His funeral took place on Saturday (June 3) in Macon.

Allman’s health had declined in recent years: In March of 2017, he canceled all of his tour plans for the remainder of the year. On April 24, rumors began to circulate that Allman had entered hospice care, but the singer soon made it clear that he was not in hospice, but was “resting on my doctor’s orders.”

See Photos From the 2017 CMT Music Awards

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