Mick Jagger on staying fit — and rocking out — at 78: 'Doing anything high-energy at this age is really pushing it'

The Rolling Stones reflect on aging, and Charlie Watts. (Photo: REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni)
The Rolling Stones reflect on aging, and Charlie Watts. (Photo: REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni)

Ahead of their upcoming 14-date tour — which marks 60 years since the Rolling Stones formed — Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood are sharing how they stay spry in their 70s. Both Jagger and Richards are 78, while Wood will celebrate his 75th birthday on June 1.

In a new interview with the Sunday Times, Jagger acknowledges that the band's exhaustive touring schedule defies expectations about aging, though it's a challenge he welcomes.

"Rock ’n’ roll, or any kind of pop music honestly, isn’t supposed to be done when you’re in your 70s,” the British rocker says. “It wasn’t designed for that. Doing anything high-energy at this age is really pushing it. But that makes it even more challenging. So it’s, like, ‘OK, we’ve got to f***ing do this right,’ but it’s got to be as full-on as possible. Of course you could do another type of music — we’ve got lots of ballads. I could sit on a chair.”

Though he now travels with a cardiologist after undergoing heart valve replacement surgery in 2019, the famously limber frontman is committed to keeping up his workout routine. One would expect nothing less of the man who inspired "Moves Like Jagger."

Jagger describes his regimen as "six weeks of practice even before rehearsals start. And I do dancing, gym, every day of the week. I don’t enjoy it very much, but it has to be done.”

For Richards, who gave up his 55-year cigarette habit two years ago, his concert prep these days is more sedate than his libertine reputation might suggest.

"I may or may not have a stiff drink, but usually I don’t," he says. "You know, you grow out of everything. I’ve spent all my life giving up things, so that’s about it now.”

Wood, meanwhile, is mindful of his health after bouts with lung cancer and small-cell cancer over the past five years.

"After all my battles in recent years with the big C, I try to keep moving, keep my joints warmed up — stretches and stuff," the green juice fan shares.

The death of drummer Charlie Watts last August following complications from heart surgery remains top of mind for the group's surviving members.

“I don’t really expect him to be there any more if I turn round during a show,” Jagger says. “But I do think about him. Not only during rehearsals or on stage, but in other ways too. I would have phoned him up and talked about last night’s Arsenal game because he supported Tottenham and I’m Arsenal. I miss him as a player and as a friend. In the show, when we come to the front and bow at the end, there’s no Charlie. He’d always be the last one down. I’d go: ‘Come on, what have you got to do?’ He’d be fiddling with his sticks because he always had to have them in a row before he’d get off the seat.”

While the rockers are doing their best to keep young and vital, they agree that old age does have one perk: emotional maturity. Though their in-band squabbles are the stuff of legend, Jagger credits "getting more mature" with keeping things calm, not chaotic.

"It's true, and it’s taken a long time," the singer says. "We’re in a very immature business. I’m under no illusions about that. But it doesn’t mean that you have to be immature.”

Adds Wood, who wasn't declared an official member of the Rolling Stones until 1976: "We’ve matured among ourselves. The attitudes within the band are no longer throwaway. It used to be all ‘Oh, crawl back under your rock.' I had many years of ‘Shut up, you’re the new boy,’ that kind of feeling, but now every tour has a changed demeanor. Mick’s been through so many different moods and images in his life, and he’s come back to this really warm person. Keith too.”