Legendary rockers The Rolling Stones are set to play a free open-air gig in Cuba after years of their music being prohibited by the Island-nation's Communist rulers as it was deemed "ideological deviation". The Stones announced today (1 March) that they will be performing at the Ciudad Deportiva de la Habana on 25 March this year.
The ageing rockstarts will become the first British band to perform an open-air concert on the Caribbean island with the group declaring the performance as a "landmark" moment. Their gig will come just three days after another historic first-time visit from US President Barack Obama concludes. Obama will become the first sitting US head of state to go to Havana since 1928 with the trip designed to bring the two nations closer after the Cold War and years of trade blockades.
"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," said a statement by the band.
The band consisting of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood will perform in a 64-acre sports complex near the capital. The Stones are currently on tour in South America, with dates this month in Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Mexico.
Their music was once banned by the ruling communist regime on the island for being an "ideological deviation" and counter revolutionary. But they were by no means the only household names to have their music banned, many huge artists were also outlawed.
They included Elvis Presley and The Beatles, prohibited from as early as 1959. The nation's strongman leader, Fidel Castro, later said he regretted banning some music and unveiled a statue to John Lennon in a Havana park in 2000.
As well as their show The Rolling Stones will also lead an initiative that will see musical instruments and equipment being donated to Cuban musicians. Guitar maker Gibson, keyboard maker Roland and cymbal firm Zildjian are a few of the companies providing the instruments.