By Mike Collett-White
LONDON (Reuters) - The Rolling Stones will perform two concerts in London and two near New York as part of their 50th anniversary celebrations, the band announced on Monday, and lead singer Mick Jagger hinted there could be more gigs to come.
The British group, one of rock and roll's most successful acts, will play the O2 Arena in the British capital on November 25 and 29 before crossing the Atlantic to perform at the Prudential Center, Newark, on December 13 and 15.
"Sorry to keep you all hanging around but the waiting is over," guitarist Keith Richards said in a statement, referring to months of rumors and gossip in the music press about an anniversary tour.
"I've always said the best place for rock and roll is on the stage and the same is true for the Stones," he added. "I'm here with Mick, Charlie and Ronnie and everything is rocking. See you very soon!"
Richards, fellow guitarist Ronnie Wood, Jagger and drummer Charlie Watts will perform on a stage designed around the band's trademark tongue and lips logo, and organizers have promised a high-tech live experience.
During an interview on BBC's Radio 2 shortly before the gigs were confirmed, Jagger suggested that the four dates could be a prelude to a longer tour.
"It's not going to be a long tour, the first bit," he said, when asked how many concerts the Stones planned to perform.
The band's last world tour was A Bigger Bang, which went on for two years and culminated at the O2 Arena in August 2007. It earned around $558 million, making it the second highest grossing tour in history behind U2's 360 Tour, and demand for tickets to the 2012 concerts is likely to be high.
"The Rolling Stones are a global phenomenon - and one of the last supergroups still performing with a full line up," said Ed Parkinson, a spokesman for ticketing website Viagogo.
Viagogo predicted that more than a million people were likely to apply for around 30,000 seats available at the two O2 Arena concerts, meaning the chances of fans being able to see the Stones would be as little as 37:1.
Tickets to the London shows go on sale on the morning of October 19 and can be purchased on www.rollingstones.com and several other websites. Those for the U.S. concerts will be available from October 26.
The shows will mark the launch of a new music venture called Virgin Live combining the Virgin Group and Dainty Group, which is already one of the world's biggest live music promoters.
As part of their 50th anniversary celebrations, the Stones are releasing a new greatest hits album "GRRR!" on November 12/13 and later this week a new documentary charting the group's rise to superstardom will premiere at the London film festival.
The band behind a string of hits including "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction", "Honky Tonk Women" and "Angie", started out on July 12, 1962 at the Marquee Club in London's Oxford Street.
(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)