Musicians Visit Cuba: A Look Back - Rolling Stone
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Musicians Visit Cuba: A Look Back

In advance of Stones’ big Havana show, we recap six decades of historic trips

Diplo; Cuba

Diplo, a DJ and producer, performing with his Caribbean-influenced electronic group Major Lazer at a concert at the Jose Marti Anti-Imperialist monument in Havana, March 6, 2016. The event was the first concert by a major American pop act since the reinstatement of diplomatic relations between the two countries in December 2014 and had an estimated 450,000 in attendance. (Lisette Poole/The New York Times)

Lisette Poole/Redux

Despite its troubled political history, Cuba has generally enjoyed a warm relationship with international musicians. Over the years, a handful of artists in a variety of genres have traveled to the embargoed nation as cultural students and unofficial diplomatic representatives. For decades, the Cuban government placed a strict ban on rock music in the name of "ideological deviation," but these restrictions are becoming more relaxed.

The Rolling Stones have taken advantage of the thawing relations by announcing a free show in Havana on March 25th — taking place less than a week after Barack and Michelle Obama's arrival there — to conclude their Latin American tour. "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," the band said in a press release. They follow Diplo and Major Lazer, who played an open-air concert to a crowd of half a million Cubans on March 6th

As Cuba's iron curtain continues to fall, here is a brief history of musicians who have made the trip to perform or merely learn.

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