Rolling Stones announce historic free concert in Havana March 25 – Reuters

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HAVANA The Rolling Stones will perform a free outdoor concert in Havana on March 25, the band announced on Tuesday, a milestone event in a country where the communist government once banned the group’s music as an “ideological deviation.”

The Stones added the Concert for Amity 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 performance 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 concert, which will be filmed, is set to take place on the fields surrounding the Ciudad Deportiva de la Habana, a 26-hectare (64-acre) sports complex. It will mark the first open-air concert in Cuba 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 on its website, accompanied by an image of its four current members – Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood.

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.

Fidel 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.

The upcoming Stones concert, in the planning stages for several months, was being made possible by support from Fundashon Bon Intenshon, a charitable foundation based on the island nation of Curacao, the announcement said.

The foundation also is leading an initiative to donate musical instruments and equipment from major suppliers for the benefit of Cuban musicians of all genres.

Richards, the band’s lead guitarist, said in September that the Stones were planning to record what would be their 25th U.S. studio set, and first album of new material since 2005’s “A Bigger Bang,” after completing their Latin America tour.

(Reporting by Nelson Acosta; Additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bill Trott)

Rolling Stones announce historic free concert in Havana March 25 – Reuters