HAVANA, (Reuters) – The Rolling Stones will perform a free outdoor concert in Havana on March 25, the band’s publicist announced today, a milestone event in a country where the communist government once banned the group’s music as an “ideological deviation.”
The Stones added the show – likely to be the biggest rock concert ever staged in Cuba – to a Latin American tour that had been due to end on March 17 in Mexico City.
The concert will come three days after U.S. President Barack Obama is due to conclude a visit to Cuba, the first by an American president since 1928. Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced in December 2014 they would seek to normalize relations after more than half a century of Cold War animosity.
The show is set to take place on the grounds of the Ciudad Deportiva de la Habana, a 26-hectare (64-acre) sports complex in Cuba’s capital, and will mark the first open-air concert in that nation by a British rock band, the group’s publicist said.
“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.
The announcement by the British rockers adds a scheduled stop in the Caribbean nation that had censured their music, as well as that of the Beatles and Elvis Presley, after the 1959 revolution that brought Fidel Castro, Raul’s brother, to power.
Castro ultimately lamented his government’s music censorship and attended the unveiling of a statue of the late former Beatle John Lennon in a Havana park on the 20th anniversary of his death on Dec. 8, 2000.
“I very much regret not having known you before,” Castro said during the ceremony.
Castro said he was too busy governing and his English was too poor, to understand the Beatles fully. “It’s not my fault,” he said of the censorship.