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Rolling Stones announce historic show in Cuba

March 1, 2016

Rock legends The Rolling Stones are set to perform at a free outdoor concert in Cuba, marking their first ever concert in the socialist country. The band is expected to arrive only days after US President Barack Obama.

Rolling Stones Tour Brasilien Sao Paulo
Image: Getty Images/AFP/N.Almeida

The famous musicians will play in Havana's Ciudad Deportiva on March 25, making Cuba the final stop on their current Latin American tour, the band announced on Tuesday. The news comes as Cuba is opening up to the Western world after decades of conflict with the US.

"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 Rolling Stones said on their website.

The massive rock show would be their first ever performance in the socialist state that had at one time outlawed their music as an "ideological deviation."

Communism vs. rock 'n' roll

Cuban leader Fidel Castro banned rock music in 1961 amid fears of pro-Western influences on the young socialist society. The move triggered a period of censorship and persecution against rock fans. For years, black market recordings and transistor radios were the only way to listen to "imperialist" music. taken to include the Rolling Stones, the Beatles and Elvis Presley.

The regime eventually loosened restrictions on Western cultural products, with Castro himself publicly lamenting the censorship. In 2000, the then-Cuban leader attended the unveiling of a statue of John Lennon in a Havana park.

"I very much regret not having known you before," Castro said during the ceremony.

Obama, baseball and the Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones are set to perform in the week of Obama's visit to Cuba, which was announced last month.

Obama would be the first sitting president to travel Cuba in almost 90 years.

Other superstar musicians, including U2, the former Beatle Paul McCartney and Sting, also expressed interest in playing on the island, according to Cuban media. In addition, the American baseball team Tampa Bay Rays are scheduled to play an exhibition game in Cuba in late March.

dj/gsw (Reuters, AP, AFP)