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Stones to play free concert on Rio beach

Up to 1.5 million people expected to attend
/ Source: Reuters

Rock legends the Rolling Stones will play a free concert on Rio de Janeiro’s famed Copacabana Beach on Feb. 18, organizers said Tuesday, and up to 1.5 million people are expected to attend.

“City Hall considers this show to be like another New Year. We will treat it like that,” Ana Maria Maia, a Rio official for special events, told a news conference.

The British veterans -- Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Ron Wood -- and support musicians just wrapped the 2005 leg of their North American tour in support of their Grammy-nominated album “A Bigger Bang.” The trek resumes Jan. 10 in Montreal.

Up to 1.5 million people traditionally gather on Copacabana Beach to celebrate New Year’s Eve and organizers said they expected a similar number for the Feb. 18 show.

A big security operation will be mounted. Rio is plagued by violent crime which often spills over from the slums ruled by drug gangs into the city streets.

More than 2,400 police will be on duty in three shifts and streets in the Copacabana area will be sealed off, officials said.

It will be the third time in Brazil for the Stones -- once rock’s most notorious bad boys, now a multimillion-dollar entertainment corporation after more than 40 years together. They last played Brazil in April 1998.

Jagger has a young son from a liaison with Brazilian TV presenter and model Luciana Gimenez, who lives in Sao Paulo.

The Stones have performed some notable free concerts in the past, including in London’s Hyde Park in 1969, and the infamous event at Altamont Speedway in California later that year when Hells Angels who were hired as security guards killed a fan.

Last week, the critically acclaimed “A Bigger Bang” received a Grammy nomination for best rock album.