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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Stones Relish Chance to Visit Russia




Boasting one of the most prolific and lucrative careers in music history, The Rolling Stones can afford to be slightly aloof. So when it came to addressing the Russian public in the run-up to their Aug. 11 Moscow concert, the Stones did so from afar: from Amsterdam.


The Stones restricted press access to a Russian media session conducted by NTV television's Alexei Bivovarov on June 29 in Amsterdam, where the group was playing as part of its Bridges to Babylon tour.


A sneak preview of the interview was shown last week before its inclusion in a Rolling Stones documentary on NTV.


Between clips showing classic Stones' video and concert footage, band members discussed such Russia-oriented topics as socialist philosophy, matryoshka dolls and folk music.


Like the other Stones, Mick Jagger, who will be 55 by the time he arrives in Moscow, said he had sympathized with the Soviet experiment as a young man.


"I was a very, very strong communist in college [at the London School of Economics]," he said, "and that was because that was at a time when you dream, but then things tend to fall away and you become more pragmatic."


Dressed in a tan, pin-striped jacket and unbuttoned white shirt, craggy-faced Keith Richards, 54, looked old enough to have been around when the Revolution was just a twinkle in Lenin's eye.


"My grandfather was a leading socialist and helped form the English Labour Party," he said. "When I was a child, it didn't mean much to me. All I was aware of was that some guys had some really big guns over there and some guy had some big guns over here."


"I wasn't an anti-communist, I was anti- [restrictions on] freedom," he said. "I always think that when people put up barriers around, they're obviously insecure and greedy, and I always felt I'd like to meet Russian people. I always wanted to complain about that, and not only to the people in the Kremlin but to London and Washington, D.C., and ask, 'Why do you keep this thing going?'


"And so to me it's an extra joy to be able to be able to say, 'I can see Red Square now,'" Richards said with a wrinkly, slightly shaky grin. "I think all of us thought we'd never get there, never play there, that you'd always keep us padlocked out."


Promoters said the band would take advantage of the invitation, arriving early for the concert for a couple of days of touring the city with their families before their show at Luzhniki Stadium.


Richards, who said the more he travels the more all places and people seem the same, said one way he enjoys exploring foreign cultures is through music.


"When I come to Moscow I want to hear Russian folk music, old music," he said. "And then I'll be able to understand Russian people better."


Introducing The Rolling Stones to Russian music will be warm-up band Spleen. Promoters said the choice of the St. Petersburg band over Rolling Stones' contemporaries like Time Machine was a pragmatic one, made to attract a younger generation of fans.


Richards, who broke a rib this spring, forcing the Stones to cancel shows at the beginning of their European tour, promised there would be no more health concerns before the Russian concert.


"The doctors view me as a phenomenon because my ribs healed so quickly," he said. "I told them I don't have time to be sick."


Fans will be able to monitor the Stones' health through the Internet. An on-line chat session with members of the band and the chance to win tickets to the concert will be available at www.cityline.ru/rolling once the site is up and running. Otherwise check out the official web site at www.the-rolling-stones.com. for the latest info.


Tickets for the Aug. 11 concert at Luzhniki stadium are still available at kiosks around the city. Prices are from 120 rubles to 2,175 rubles.