08/10/1998 16:34:08 After 30-year wait, Stones roll into Moscow
By Adam Tanner
MOSCOW, Aug 10 (Reuters) - More than 30 years after
they first tried to pierce the Iron Curtain to perform in
the Soviet Union, the Rolling Stones on Monday hailed the
changes that have finally allowed them to play in Moscow.
"They thought the show so awful and so decadent that
they said this show would never happen in Russia," singer
Mick Jagger said, recounting the veteran rock band's
efforts to give a concert here in 1967.
"We played in Warsaw that year and after that was
quite successful we asked if we could come to Moscow,"
Jagger told a press conference with band mates Keith
Richards, Ron Wood and Charlie Watts.
The answer from the rock-hating Soviet authorities
then, and to a second request a decade later, was a
resolute "nyet". "It was completely political because the
regime in those days didn't want any rock bands at all,"
On Tuesday the 35-year old group will get their first
chance to perform in Moscow at the 83,000-seat Olympic
"Things have changed, and we're very, very excited
about doing this show on Tuesday," said Jagger, who
retains his trademark boyishness and broad, winning smile.
"It's been a very, very long time since we wanted to come
Later on Monday they took an evening tour of Red
Square, surprising summer tourists with their unlikely
Asked how they would sate 30 years of pent-up Russian
demand for their live music, Jagger joked: "It's just a
nibble, like a starter. We hope it will just be the
The band, whose members are all in their 50s -- a
whole generation older than Russian Prime Minister Sergei
Kiriyenko -- has faced some difficulties on its "Bridges
to Babylon" tour.
They cancelled concerts in Italy and the United States
after Jagger developed laryngitis. The European tour began
a month late because Richards -- who smoked and wore
sunglasses during the press conference at their hotel --
broke two ribs.
They have also sparked controversy by cancelling the
tour at home in Britain because of a new tax law.
Russian fans have just one opportunity to see the
legendary band, but with tickets priced at $20 to $200 in
a country where average monthly wages are about $150, not
all tickets were sold as of Monday night.
Asked by one Russian reporter what kind of monument
they would like to see erected by Russian fans, Jagger
joked about a massive and controversial new grotesque
statue of Tsar Peter the Great dominating part of the
"I rather like the mad one of Peter," Jagger said.
"Maybe we could have one like that with very large guitars
placed on it."
He declined to talk about the current crisis in the
country in which official statistics show an economic
depression dragging on for the past decade.
"It would be incredibly presumptious of me or anyone,
I think, at this stage to start talking about the problems
of Russia," said Jagger, who arrived on Saturday night.
In their 35-year career the band says it has has sold
more than 100 million albums and given more than 1,000
Mick Jagger of legendary Rolling Stones rock band performs during a concert in Luzhniki sport complex August 11. The Rolling Stones finally made their Russian debut on Tuesday - by now almost as old as the geriatric Soviet communist leaders who had banned them three decades before.