Rolling Stones to play free concert for Cuba

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Music legend, The Rolling Stones

Music legend, The Rolling Stones

LONDON: The Rolling Stones announced a free concert in Cuba in what is likely to be one of the biggest shows ever both for the island and the rock legends.

The March 25 concert will take place four days after a historic visit by US President Barack Obama, a powerful sign that the communist state is joining the global mainstream after decades of tension with Washington.

The Rolling Stones will play their first-ever concert in Cuba at the open-air sports complex Ciudad Deportiva in the capital Havana.

“We have performed in many special places during our long career but this show in Havana is going to be a landmark event for us, and, we hope, for all our friends in Cuba too,” the band said in a statement.


Cuba has a famously rich musical heritage but revolutionary leader Fidel Castro banned rock and roll in 1961, fearing a degenerate influence from the US-born art form.

The island eventually relaxed its ban but missed the full force of the “British invasion” by bands such as The Rolling Stones and The Beatles.

Cuban rock fans had to resort to black-market recordings as Castro railed against youth who listened to “imperialist” music on transistor radios.

Another country off Stones’ list
But Western musicians have increasingly flocked to Cuba in recent years, especially since 2014 when Obama and leader Raul Castro, the ailing Fidel’s brother, launched the reconciliation push.

The Stones’ lead singer Mick Jagger visited Havana in October with one of his sons, fueling speculation that a gig could be imminent.

An AFP journalist spotted the 72-year-old singer attending a concert of Bamboleo, a well-known band of the timba genre, which is similar to salsa.

The Rolling Stones, one of the top-grossing acts in music, have a strong following in Latin America where the band is now touring, with the next show due Wednesday in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Havana is now the final stop on the tour. The Rolling Stones said they would also use the visit to distribute instruments to Cuban musicians donated by major makers.

The latest tour is also ticking off the list three other countries where the septuagenarian rockers had not previously performed—Colombia, Peru and Uruguay. AFP

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