Eyebrows and heart rates were raised — but imagine if he had just stood politely behind the microphone. Would it have been a Mick Jagger performance?
“Uh, no,” said Jagger, phoning from his New York hotel room on Thursday. “I don’t think I can do that.”
Performing alongside B.B. King, Buddy Guy, fellow British invader Jeff Beck and others on Tuesday, Jagger helped trigger the show’s surprise finale by passing his microphone to President Obama so that he could croon a few lines of “Sweet Home Chicago.”
Guitarist Keith Richards wasn’t in tow, but with the Rolling Stones celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, we might see the duo on stage in the near future. “Well, we’re talking about it,” Jagger said of a possible upcoming Stones tour. Until then, don’t miss Jagger’s moves when “In Performance at the White House” airs Monday on WETA at 9 p.m.
Are you the first person to wear bright red cross-trainers to a formal White House function?
Probably . . . I think performers can sort of wear what they want. And they did! Did you like B.B.’s flowery jacket? That was nice.
Nearly every artist who’s performed for this administration has said they were nervous before going on stage. But you didn’t seem nervous at all.
I don’t want to sound blasé . . . but every gig is a gig, right? If you’re rehearsed, you don’t get nervous. That’s my thing. I only get nervous when I don’t know what I’m doing.
But how do you walk into a setting as formal as the East Room and light the place up?
It didn’t feel formal when you had those musicians up on stage, y’know what I mean? When you first walk in you go, “Oooh, yeah. This is a bit odd.” But it’s a stage. And I think all of the performers felt the same way… It didn’t feel stiff. Did it to you?
No, but some White House performances in the past . . .
I spoke to one of the organizing people and they said they have felt a bit stuffy in the past. And this didn’t.
Did you ever think you’d be handing a microphone to the president of the United States?
No, that wasn’t on the list of things I expected to do. It was just a moment. And I was the only one with a spare mike!
Did the president and first lady have any thoughts for you after the show?
I saw them before. I saw him at the rehearsal and the first lady was very kind to wear L’Wren Scott, [the fashion line of Jagger’s girlfriend, L’Wren Scott], so that was a very nice added extra.
Between songs, you took special care to speak about the importance of the American blues artists who influenced you. How come?
Well, I thought it was, y’know, a show for the blues. So I thought I would just put in my two cents — my memories from my point of view. So that was a sort of personal reminiscence . . . And with B.B. being there, I was remembering all these people and how great they’d been to us. So I thought it was a good place to say it.