News / Americas

    500,000 Estimated at Rolling Stones Cuba Concert

    Keith Richards (R), Mick Jagger (C) and Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones perform a free outdoor concert at Ciudad Deportiva de la Habana sports complex in Havana, Cuba, March 25, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
    Keith Richards (R), Mick Jagger (C) and Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones perform a free outdoor concert at Ciudad Deportiva de la Habana sports complex in Havana, Cuba, March 25, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
    VOA News

    Time changes just about everything.

    And, just like their song Time Is On My Side, the Rolling Stones have apparently lived long enough to see Cuba change its stance on the legendary group's music.  

    The communist island once banned the music of the Rolling Stones because it was considered subversive, but on Friday night the band gave a historic, free concert in Havana before possibly a half million jubilant fans.  Those who could not get in watched the concert from rooftops overlooking the venue.

    Mick Jagger strutted on stage as the band launched into its first song of the night - Jumpin' Jack Flash.

    "After today I can die," said night watchman Joaquin Ortiz.  The 62-year-old said he has been a huge rock fan since he was a teenager in the 1960s, when Cuba's communist government frowned on U.S. and British bands and he had to hide his Beatles and Stones albums in covers borrowed from albums of appropriately revolutionary Cuban groups. "This is  like my last wish, seeing the Rolling Stones."

    Fans gather near the stage at the Ciudad Deportiva de la Habana sports complex where the Rolling Stones' free outdoor concert will take place in Havana, Cuba, March 25, 2016.
    Fans gather near the stage at the Ciudad Deportiva de la Habana sports complex where the Rolling Stones' free outdoor concert will take place in Havana, Cuba, March 25, 2016.

    Cuban state media estimated an audience of as many as 500,000 people, making the Stones the biggest act to play in Cuba since the country's 1959 revolution.

    Some Cubans slept overnight to be first in line to enter the stadium.

    The Stones arrived in Havana Thursday, just two days after U.S. President Barack Obama ended his historic visit to Cuba, aimed at moving past more than five decades of hostility between the United States and Cuba.

    Jagger told reporters as he arrived at the airport "obviously something has happened in the last few years." He said "time changes everything. We are very pleased to be here and I'm sure it's going to be a great show."

    "We have performed in many special places during our long career, but this show in Havana will be a milestone for us, and, we hope, for all our friends in Cuba, too," the band said in a statement before their arrival.

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