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Rolling Stones Announce Landmark Concert In Cuba

Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones performs live on stage at Morumbi Stadium last month in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Mauricio Santana
Getty Images
Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones performs live on stage at Morumbi Stadium last month in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Havana will meet the Rolling Stones later this month.

The band has announced they'll play a free open-air concert in the Cuban capital on March 25.

That will make them "the most famous act to play Cuba since its 1959 revolution," the Associated Press reports.

"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 Rolling Stones said in a statement. They're currently on tour in South and Central America.

The concert is scheduled just three days after President Obama is set to visit Cuba. He'll be the first sitting U.S. president since Calvin Coolidge to do so, as The Two-Way has reported.

Cuba has a fraught history with rock and roll. NPR's explains:

"Fidel Castro didn't like rock music. Or hippies. In 1968, he launched a 'revolutionary offensive' aimed at eliminating all remnants of capitalism. He also closed Havana's nightclubs for a year.

"Castro aimed to cure Cuba once and for all of 'ideological deviants,' which included long-haired youth, homosexuals and any others the authorities simply had reason to mistrust. For Cuban authorities, The Beatles were viewed as harbingers of an imperialist offensive out to corrupt young Cuban minds.

"Over the next two years, thousands of youth were swept up in a repressive crackdown."

But as NPR's Carrie Kahn reported to our Newscast unit, "Castro later repented when he dedicated a statue of John Lennon in a Havana park in 2000."

She adds: "Since warming relations with the U.S. more than a year ago, Cuba has been visited extensively by U.S. entertainers, artists and business leaders."

The Rolling Stones were becoming global stars at the height of Cuba's crackdown.

"It's part of a dream to see the greatest icons of music who couldn't come before for various reasons, above all Cuba's isolation," Cuban music critic Joaquin Borges Triana tells the Associated Press. "The Rolling Stones are going to magically unite generations of Cubans, from people in their 60s to their children and grandchildren."

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Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.