Rolling Stones in first-ever show in Cuba (VIDEO)
The Rolling Stones rocked tens of thousands of Cuban and foreign fans at a free, outdoor concert in Havana on Friday (March 25), capping a week of engagement with the West for the Communist-run country that once censored the veteran British band's music. The Stones kicked off their first-ever show in Cuba with their hit "Jumpin' Jack Flash." It was first recorded in 1968, when Cuban rock fans were secretly sharing pirated vinyl records and risked being sent to rural work brigades to cure "ideological deviation".
The group followed with "It's Only Rock 'n Roll (But I Like It)," which may carry extra meaning for Cuban fans who once faced discrimination for their musical tastes. Fans started gathering 18 hours ahead of time at Havana's Sports City football and baseball fields, including Cubans who traveled from across the Caribbean's largest island and foreigners who flew in for the occasion. People were dressed in all manner of jeans, T-shirts and boots with the Stones' tongue and lips logo. Noticeably absent were would-be entrepreneurs selling T-shirts or memorabilia. Cubans have taken to coloring the tongue with the stars and stripes of the U.S. flag, whether in the mistaken belief that the British rock stars were American or in the spirit of this week's historic visit by U.S. President Barack Obama.
The Stones formed in London in 1962, just three years after Fidel Castro's bearded, long-haired rebels toppled a pro-American government. Ironically, Castro's revolutionary government came to see counterculture bands like the Stones and the Beatles as dangerously subversive and prohibited their music on TV and radio. Half a century later, both the Rolling Stones and Cuba's leadership share a longevity, performing well beyond what most people would consider retirement age.