The Pope, Obama, the Rolling Stones…, who’s next?
Havana.- The Rolling Stones arrived in Cuba two days after U.S. President Barack Obama made a historic visit to the island, promising to end decades of hostility between the two nations. The legendary band also wanted to make history.
Despite receiving huge media attention and drawing hundreds of thousands for the last stop of their "Ole" Latin America tour, the Rolling Stones are not the first major international rock band to play in Cuba.
Manic Street Preachers did it first, fifteen years ago, exactly on February 17, 2001. They became the first major western artists to play a concert in Cuba for more than 20 years since Billy Joel and Kris Kristofferson defied the US cultural and economic embarg and attended the Havana Jam festival in 1979.
Cuban President Fidel Castro, then 74, was the surprise guest of honor of a concert whose highlight was the song Baby Elian, an anti-American tribute to six-year-old shipwreck survivor Elian Gonzalez, who was in the middle of a custody dispute at the time.
Castro stood and applauded, and even went backstage to meet Manic Street Preachers. That was historic, especially when 50 years ago rock music –including The Beatles and the Rolling Stones– was banned on Cuban state TV and radio, and even Cubans who wore long hair and beards faced harassment.