There have been many posts since then — goofy images from the past; tributes to Dr. John, Little Richard and beloved bandmate Charlie Watts; a plea to help victims of a volcanic eruption in the Caribbean — but Jagger’s IG posts accelerated this past September, when the Stones regrouped to complete their No Filter tour. There was Mick, gazing at deer while hiking in Tennessee. Or posing in front of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. And how about that Wednesday night in Charlotte when Mick appeared, in the shadows, sipping a beer outside the Thirsty Beaver Saloon?
If you couldn’t make the gig, or were struggling in your personal coronavirus purgatory, there was a certain joy in following along as one of the last great rock stars explored and documented his road stops. With the Stones tour now wrapped, Jagger, 78, spoke on the phone with The Washington Post about his Instagram habit.
(This interview has been edited for clarity and length.)
Q: You're busy on tour and anybody who has seen these performances knows they're very physical. Some might think you'd be sitting in a whirlpool or in bed to rest up between shows. Why did you decide to do this?
A: I’m not just doing it to do Instagram pictures. I’m doing it to go out, because I don’t want to be stuck in a hotel room watching TV. But, I mean, it gives you a bit of a funny thing. Oh, that’ll make a good picture, that’s hilarious. I don’t publish them all. Some of them are just too weird. But you do see odd things and you meet people and you say hello.
Q: How do you decide where to go?
A: If you’re only there for a couple of days, you do a bit of planning. Is there a museum? Because each town has something of great interest, whether it’s a beautiful park, or a lovely picture, or a museum that’s interesting to you, or some odd thing that you never thought of.
Q: I don't see anyone in the frame with you. Do you have bodyguards or is it just you and one other person? I would think you'd be recognized and mobbed.
A: I take one security guy or maybe two. And one of the guys — one of the musicians, maybe — and we go out and explore. We walked the strip in Nashville. I’m wearing a mask and a hat and so I [am not recognized]. It’s crazy. But most of the places I go aren’t super crowded.
Q: I see other celebrities on Instagram and they'll primp themselves and be all done up. Almost like a publicity campaign. You seem not to be very concerned about makeup and lighting. You look good in these, but you don't seem to care quite as much about that piece.
A: No, not that much. I’m just trying to get a vibe of where the place is. I mean, I don’t want to look horrible, either, but it’s not about total vanity. It’s just like a diary in a way, I suppose. The places you’ve been.
Q: Did you come up with the idea of posting from every city, or did someone say, "Hey, you know, this would be cool to do"? What was the goal there?
A: Yeah, that was my idea, because when I started, I did it in our previous tours. But now, social media has become more popular. People didn’t take quite as much notice as they do now. And when I stopped, when I did it from that bar, you know, the Beaver bar. Yeah. Some people took a lot of notice and I thought, well, actually, this is kind of fun.
Q: In that photo from the Thirsty Beaver Saloon in Charlotte, you're sipping beer and people are acting as if you're not there. Did you have to say, "Could you please look away or not notice me?" Or did they not actually notice?
A: Basically, if you look, they’re all behind me.
Q: Ah, okay, so they didn't notice.
A: There’s hardly anyone there. It’s dark. It’s not like really grand. I’m not in a big, huge limo. I just walk the block and then just go down there. And I can’t go inside the room because the covid rules of the tour don’t allow me to go in a saloon. And that’s a promise we made. But I could stand [on the patio] outside the saloon. And I’m far away from the people.
Q: Not to dwell too much on the Thirsty Beaver Saloon, but how did you know to go there?
A: Well, I mean, local people tell me that that’s a popular dive bar when I get there. In normal times, I would go into the bar and spend time in there. But, you know, I didn’t want to do that because of covid. So I just went outside. And at other times, you do the typical tourist thing like the St. Louis Arch. If you go there at certain times of the day, there’s not so many people. [Then you] take the mask off and do the picture.
Q: In Las Vegas, you pose with the old lights at the Neon Boneyard, but you're also just standing in this parking lot. It looks like a strip mall.
A: There was something funny about that. Something about rock stars [an advertisement behind him for a Rockstar energy drink], but that’s not really what attracted me. It was because it’s so generic and American and you go there and see all this glitzy, Las Vegas architecture and then you turn a corner and it’s just ordinary. . . . I like these odd places. So you go to the park, say, I don’t know where it was in the beautiful park. And then on the way you see all these weird industrial scrap heaps. I put it in there. Or you see 100 cherry pickers parked, you know. What’s this?
Q: In Los Angeles, did you stumble upon that mural of the 1969 Mick on that building?
A: That’s been there forever. I’ve been to L.A. so many times. I’ve passed that mural so many times. I thought, it’s funny to go down there, and then my daughter’s hair salon is in that same area. So I thought I’d do that.
Q: Have you always been a big walker? I notice a lot of photos on nature trails. You're on this rock, near the waterfall in Austin. Or out staring at the deer.
A: Touring’s a pretty urban thing, so it’s nice to get out in nature and see a different perspective on things when you go to places like that. It’s wild. I went for some long hikes in some of these other places where I didn’t take any pictures. I think we went out in Missouri for quite a long hike to the forest. It wasn’t marked very well on the map, and the Google map wasn’t very helpful. And we made it. We walked to a place with virtually no one except for a guy in a canoe.
Q: Do you ever ask the guys to join you? Like, "Keith, I'm going for a nice walk on a nature trail."
A: I don’t think Keith really . . . I think he has a different approach to how he handles being on tour. I mean, he does occasionally go out to eat. But I think the covid thing . . . people quite rightly got worried about what would happen if they ran into a crowd of people.
Q: In Miami, you're sitting on the beach. You look like you're able to relax without a crowd.
A: Actually, the hotel was on the beach and I got totally paparazzi’d and drone paparazzi’d on my balcony, which I’m sure is illegal. But yeah, I thought I’d walk on the beach, but I was a bit naive and I got really paparrazzi’d but I got the picture. I thought it would be nice to sit on the beach for a minute.