LONDON The Rolling Stones will take a step back in time this weekend by replicating a woodland in London's Hyde Park present for a 1969 show there that became a tribute to band founder Brian Jones.
Jones had already left the Stones the last time frontman Mick Jagger, guitarist Keith Richards and drummer Charlie Watts played the royal park 44 years ago for a gig meant to introduce his replacement Mick Taylor.
But two days before their appearance the 27-year-old Jones drowned in his swimming pool under the influence of drugs and alcohol, turning the concert into a commemoration.
Now the band with an average age of 69, fresh from a wildly acclaimed Glastonbury festival debut and riding high on celebrations last year marking 50 years in music, have a chance to reinvent the past with sold out concerts on July 6 and 13.
"Hyde Park holds such great memories for us and we can't think of anywhere better to perform to our UK fans this summer," Jagger said in April, announcing the first of the two concerts.
Model oak trees and thousands of branches have been brought in for the set with sources telling Reuters that the Stones wanted an environment that was as natural as possible.
"When Mick and the band looked out from the stage back in the Sixties all they could see was a sea of people and a load of trees, but many of those have been cleared or replanted since," a source told British media. "They want to recreate the woodland."
Philip Norman, who wrote the unauthorized biography "Jagger", said although the modern audience may not remember Jones's adventurous musical brilliance, the band's long-serving fans would be looking for a nod to the man who started it all.
"A lot of the old hard-core fans and a lot of the people who knew the Stones in those days would be very pleased and proud if (Jagger) would (acknowledge Jones) and he may well do," Norman told Reuters.
Nostalgia has played a major part in the Rolling Stones's activities of the past year as they celebrated 50 years in the music business and embarked on a North American tour.
The Rolling Stones lived up to their reputation as one of the greatest rock'n'roll bands when they played to more than 100,000 revelers at last weekend's Glastonbury festival.
The Stones have chosen a crop of "indie" bands to support them in front of a crowd of 65,000 at Hyde Park, with The Vaccines and The Temper Trap sharing the bill. Representatives for the band said there was no truth to a rumor that Grammy-winning singer Adele would appear.
The Rolling Stones emerged alongside the Beatles in the early 1960s to become one of the most successful groups in rock and roll history with hits such as "Jumpin' Jack Flash", "Satisfaction" and "Sympathy for the Devil".
They last went on the road for their "A Bigger Bang" tour from 2005 to 2007, playing 144 shows around the world and grossing more than $550 million, one of the world's most lucrative rock tours.
Live performances have emerged as the major money earner in the music business as record sales go digital, with growing numbers of veteran acts returning to the stage and attracting well-heeled, ageing fans willing to pay high ticket prices.
(Reporting by Paul Casciato, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith)