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Rolling Stones to rock Havana

March 24, 2016

The Rolling Stones promise an "historic" concert in Havana on Friday, March 25. The rock band added Cuba to the end of a Latin American tour - and they'll be among the first major international stars to play there.

Rolling Stones Sticker in Havana
Image: picture-alliance/epa/E. Mastrascusa

Ahead of their first Havana concert, scheduled for Friday (25.03.2016), the Rolling Stones sent their fans on the island a video message in Spanish.

"We have played in many incredible places, but this concert in Havana is going to be a historic event for us," Mick Jagger said in a voice over while "Jumping' Jack Flash" plays to snippets of concert video.

"We hope it will be for you, too," the band's lead singer adds.

'Hola Cuba!'

The famous rock band will play outdoors in Havana's Ciudad Deportiva on the final leg of their current Latin American tour. It'll be their first ever performance in the socialist state and follows a historic March 6 show by US electronic group Major Lazer.

Concerned about pro-Western influences on the young socialist society, Cuban leader Fidel Castro outlawed rock music in 1961.

"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.

"Hola Cuba!" the elderly but hugely popular British superstars call out in a short clip posted on the state-run cubainformacion.tv website earlier this week.

Free entry to concert

The band is not charging for tickets in the impoverished country and state news media estimate that hundreds of thousands of people will show up to hear the Stones play.

The Havana concert was a surprise addition to a Latin America tour that has seen the band play in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay. A huge stage is being erected in the sports park as well as 10 giant video screens - unheard of in Cuba where technology mostly lags far behind.

Despite official disapproval of rock music, former restrictions have gradually melted away over the last decade. Jagger, 72, actually visited Cuba last year to attend a concert.

The concert comes on the heels of US President Barack Obama's groundbreaking visit to Cuba, in which he said he had come to "bury" decades of US-Cuban animosity and to promote the isolated state's opening up to the world.

db/kbm (AFP, Reuters)