Cuba gears up for historic free concert in Havana

A sign that reads in Spanish "Colombia in peace" next to Ernesto "Che" Guevara with the traditional Rolling Stones tongue hangs on the fence surrounding the venue where the Rolling Stones will play their concert in Havana, Cuba, Friday, March 25, 2016. The Stones are performing in a free concert in Havana Friday, becoming the most famous act to play Cuba since its 1959 revolution.(AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)

HAVANA (AP) — Cuba is gearing up for an historic free concert by The Rolling Stones on Friday night in the country where rock and roll music was once silenced.

The band arrived Thursday evening in the Cuban capital where the concert will be held.

Mick Jagger, right, and Ron Wood, from The Rolling Stones, walk on the tarmac as they arrive to Jose Marti international airport in Havana, Cuba, Thursday, March 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Mick Jagger, right, and Ron Wood, from The Rolling Stones, walk on the tarmac as they arrive to Jose Marti international airport in Havana, Cuba, Thursday, March 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

“Obviously something has happened in the last few years,” lead singer Mick Jagger said in English. “So, time changes everything… we are very pleased to be here and I’m sure it’s going to be a great show.”

The concert comes three days after President Barack Obama wrapped up a visit to the communist-run island during which he declared an end to the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas.

The band’s private plane flew into Jose Marti airport with the four British rockers and about 60 technical workers and family members. The concert will be held outside at Havana’s Ciudad Deportivo.

“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 released before the arrival.

In the heat of Cuba’s revolution from the 1960s to the 1980s, foreign bands such as The Rolling Stones were considered subversive and blocked from the radio. Cubans listened to their music in secret, passing records from hand to hand.

The band’s Cuba stop follows concerts in Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Argentina and Mexico.

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