The Rolling Stones’ influence on Britain’s cultural landscape is well documented. Bursting onto the music scene in the 60s, the group represented and inspired the rise of the rebellious youth counterculture and accompanied the Beatles in leading the ‘British Invasion’ of the US scene. A lesser known aspect of the Stones’ influence, however, is the following they inspired in Latin America.
Last week Branding Latin America was thrilled to organize a VIP screening of The Rolling Stones Olé Olé Olé! A Trip Across Latin America at COYA Mayfair. The event was the latest in a long line of collaborations with the Peruvian restaurant and member’s club, which is dedicated to promoting the best of Latin American culture in London. Produced by Eagle Rock Entertainment, the feature documentary follows the Stones’ tour of 10 Latin American cities in early 2016. An exclusive group of private members and embassy and press representatives were invited to participate in a Q&A session with Peter Worsley, Managing Director, Digital, Theatrical and Production at Eagle Rock Films.
Culminating in their historic gig in Havana, the film, which has also been aired on Channel 4, reveals the unique relationship between the Stones and their Latin American fans. Featuring intimate interviews with band members, we see the revolutionary impact the group has had on the subcultures of the region, where their music became a tool of social resistance in often oppressive political climates.
In one touching scene, we see Ronnie Wood painting with Brazilian artist Ivald Granato, with whom he has built up a relationship over several visits. Although the two do not share a common language, they connect easily and quite beautifully through their art, helped along by the occasional ‘I love you!’ from Granato, who promises to send the finished masterpiece to Wood’s home address. The eagle eyed will note that the feature is dedicated to the Brazilian, who died shortly after filming.
We also see the continuing passion of the Rolingas, an urban tribe of Stones fans who rose to prominence in 1980s Argentina, when groups inspired by Jagger et al began to emerge on to the country’s music scene. Visibly excited at the prospect of her heroes’ return to Buenos Aires, one Rolinga speaks of the pride she feels in this shared identity, which differentiates her from the mainstream and manifests itself in the distinctive Stones style of dress.
Most striking of all, however, is the impact of the free show in Cuba. Dubbed the ‘Concert for Amity’, the event did not come about without a struggle; it is fascinating to witness the negotiations necessary to stage what was undoubtedly an unprecedented move forward in diplomatic relations between Cuba and the capitalist West. After banning the Beatles in 1964 for their ‘American’ influence, Fidel Castro continued to resist the influence of rock and roll in the name of promoting Cuban music and national identity. Indeed, Ernesto Juan Castellanos, who organized a Beatles conference in Cuba in 2000, tells how imitation of artists like the Rolling Stones could easily result in trouble with the police. Despite, or perhaps because of such measures, the 1.2 million people who eventually attended the gig in March 2016 are testament to the significant following that the group inspired within Cuban counter culture. Indeed, the success of the landmark event suggests the desire of the Cuban population to open up to the rest of the world, a reality that now seems ever more possible following Castro’s recent passing.
Described by Ali Catterall of The Guardian as ‘A warm, uplifting road movie with soul’, it was an honour to be involved in the promotion of this iconic film.
With thanks to Eagle Rock Entertainment and COYA Mayfair, 118 Piccadilly, Mayfair, London, W1J 7NW, http://www.coyarestaurant.com/london