Obama visit an 'opening act' for Rolling Stones concert in Cuba

Sat Mar 19, 2016 2:59pm EDT
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By Daniel Trotta

HAVANA (Reuters) - The Rolling Stones were meant to play a rock 'n' roll show in Havana on Sunday but were delayed five days because of the inconvenient arrival of another foreign visitor: U.S. President Barack Obama.

Obama lands on Sunday for a 48-hour visit 15 months after he reversed more than half a century of U.S. policy on Cuba and started normalizing relations with the former Cold War adversary.

The Stones' Latin American tour happened to roughly coincide and the band was at first set to play Havana on Sunday, but organizers then learned of the Obama trip and postponed the show until Friday, the band's production manager said.

"At one point we thought he (Obama) was coming to the show," Dale "Opie" Skjerseth told reporters on Saturday from the outdoor sports complex where the Stones will play.

"He's our opening act," Skjerseth joked.

The Stones added the free show to the end of a Latin American tour, becoming the first major international rock stars to play Cuba.

"They like to be the first of everything," Skjerseth said.

He said the band members were also aware their music and that of the Beatles and Elvis Presely were once banned by the Communist government as "ideological deviation."   Continued...

A view of the stage to be used for the Rolling Stones' free outdoor concert on March 25 at Ciudad Deportiva de la Habana sports complex, Havana, March 19, 2016. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado