Even though I’m not their biggest fan by any stretch, I still love this.
Stop us if you’ve heard this one, but rock-and-roll royalty Mick Jagger walks into a dive bar in Charlotte, North Carolina, and no one seems to notice. According to the Rolling Stone frontman’s Twitter account, that’s just what happened last night at the iconic Thirsty Beaver Saloon. Jagger stands in front of the storied establishment, sipping a beer, and the other customers aren’t even looking in his direction. “Out and about last night in Charlotte, NC,” the post reads.
The Rolling Stones play the Bank of America stadium this evening, so presumably Jagger had some time to kill last night and grabbed a brew at the Plaza Midwood bar. The Thirsty Beaver is an unpretentious establishment well known for refusing to sell to developers building up the area. The tiny bar is now surrounded massive apartment complexes, looking much like the house from the Pixar film Up.
The Thirsty Beaver has been a fixture of the neighborhood since 2008 and remains a spot for live music, cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon, and folks having conversations with their friends and neighbors — and a the occasionally international rock star.
Here’s a pic Tweeted by Jagger his own self:
Out and about last night in Charlotte, NC pic.twitter.com/BWssvivAII
— Mick Jagger (@MickJagger) September 30, 2021
Further deets, followed by an explanation for why I’m even posting on this in the first place.
He looked like any other ball-cap clad, jeans-wearing North Carolinian as he stood at a high-table and quaffed a brew at one of Charlotte’s most famous dive bars Wednesday night.
No adoring fans to shrug off, no security guards by his side as Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger enjoyed the night air on the patio of the Thirsty Beaver Saloon on Central Avenue.
Several other patrons seated at a nearby table and bench seemed to ignore the rock ‘n’ roll icon. They looked the other way as someone snapped a photo that Jagger later sent onto Instagram and Twitter.
“Out and about last night in Charlotte NC,” Jagger wrote.
Did Jagger rent out the bar, and were those “patrons” his crew?
“Absolutely not,” Brian Wilson, co-owner of The Thirsty Beaver, told The Charlotte Observer on Thursday.
Turns out, the four or five patrons pictured in Jagger’s photo had no idea it was him, Wilson said.
The bar had no advance notice that Jagger would drop by, and even the bartender had no clue it was him when she served him a beer, Wilson said.
Jagger appeared to be drinking a Miller Lite or a “Mick Ultra,” err, Michelob Ultra, but Wilson said he didn’t know yet what brand the rock star ordered.
Wilson had already gone home to put his young daughter to bed when Jagger showed up at about 10 p.m., he said.
Now, among the several things that make this so amusing to me is the fact that I know the Beaver and Brian quite well. Admittedly, the Beaver has never been a preferred hangout of mine, which isn’t so much that there’s anything in particular wrong with the joint, mind. It’s more because it gets so dang elbow-to-elbow packed on the weekends. I just never could deal with that. Doesn’t stop most of my friends from flocking there, especially on their Sunday afternoon biker gatherings.
Brian and his brother have a band that has done shows with my own plenty of times over the years, and Bri is a-okay with me, although there was some mild to moderate aggro from his brother towards me for a while there that I never really understood but which seems now to have abated, near as I can tell. Whatever the problem might have been, it was something I never even tried to figure out; if you’re hoping to find someone who’ll tell you I’m a grade-A prick and an asshole, you won’t have to look very hard or long before you do.
That never has bothered me, and never will; as the frontman of a fairly well-known band, I accepted that sort of hassle from the earliest days as just part of the game. My feeling was and remains that a person fragile enough to let such silliness get under his skin is a person who has absolutely no business ever setting foot on a stage in the first damned place. Show biz is NOT known for being kind to the delicate, the diffident, or the uncertain. An iron, unshakable confidence is a non-negotiable requirement of the job, any deficiency or even momentary flagging of which Show Biz will immediately seize upon and use to viciously beat you with, until you’re stone cold dead.
Anyhoo, the Wilson boys have another place on Monroe Rd across from Lupies: the Tipsy Burrow, which I like a lot better than the Beaver, having a lot more room to move around unmolested as it does. Really good food at the Burrow too, which the Beaver doesn’t offer at all. Onwards.
Wilson said he could only guess that someone suggested Thirsty Beaver because Jagger would be able to drink in peace there, given its typically eclectic mix of patrons who would likely leave such a musical legend alone.
“Everybody’s used to it being an eclectic place,” Wilson said.
But Mick Jagger??
Wilson said his bartender that night has come in for some good-natured ribbing.
“C’mon, Hayley, the greatest rock ‘n’ roll legend of all time?”
Heh. Hayley is a friend too, as it happens.
Years ago, Wilson said, Eric Clapton visited the now-defunct Double Door Inn music venue in Charlotte.
Yep, he did. Remember that Double Door business, gang. You will be seeing that material again.
“And we got Mick Jagger, so I think we did all right.”
Retired Observer sports columnist Tom Sorensen devilishly replied with a reference to another Stones hit.
“@MickJagger A man of wealth and taste,” Sorensen wrote.
Known Tom for many years as well. He was a colleague and friend of the band’s manager, Mike Evans, before Mike inexplicably decided to ruin his life by up and quitting his cushy, well-remunerated Charlotte Disturber sinecure to wantonly ravage his bank balance, his liver, and his personal reputation via going into the music biz.
I swear, it’s beginning to seem like Old Home week up in here, ain’t it?
On to the Double Door. Clapton did indeed famously show up and play a set there back in 1982, after headlining a concert at the old Coliseum on Independence, I believe. Now, by the late 80s the Double Door Inn had forged a stellar reputation for itself as one of the premier stops on what you might call the chitlin’ circuit for old-school trad blues bands. Autographed band photos covering every wall testify to a roster of legendary alumni that really has to be seen to be believed: Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown; Junior Walker; Levon Helm; JJ Cale; The Fabulous Thunderbirds; and even Stevie Ray Vaughan, to name but a few.
And, beginning in late 1989, the DDI also became the home base for a fledgling local RAB outfit yclept the Belmont Playboys. Owned and operated by a soft-spoken but savvy Greek feller name of Nick Karres, the place was blessed with a warm, clear, full-throated sound both onstage and off, so good I’d put it in the top two or three best out of all the places I’ve played. There was even a documentary movie made about the Dirty Floor, including footage from the final show before it shut down. Yes, the BPs are in it.
And now we come to it at long last. See, Jagger is by no means the only instance of world-renowned rock and roll royalty gracing a local institution on the QT. During the Southeastern leg of their Black Ice tour, a certain little band from Australia you may have heard of settled themselves in for a couple weeks hereabouts, putting out from CLT for several shows ranging from Raleigh down to ATL. And on their days off, the boys got into the habit of dropping in at a certain legendary blues venue in the late afternoon/early evening for the daily Jeopardy Happy Hour ritual to restore the tissues and recharge the batteries via quaffing a cold one or three amongst the handful of grizzled regulars.
I didn’t learn about AC/DC’s daily pilgrimage to the DDI until well after the fact, which enraged me so thorougly I immediately called Nick to scream sundry epithets in his ear, all based around the “WHY THE HELL DIDN’T YOU TELL ME…” theme, until I was hoarse and out of breath. I can’t remember any specifics of Nick’s response, other than a gruff laugh and a “Idunno,” which I see to this day in my mind’s eye accompanied by his characteristic apathetic shrug.
I don’t care about missing Mick’s visit, honestly. But missing the chance to kick casually back with Angus, Malcolm, and Brian to share a friendly tipple and a few road-dog stories frosts my nuts blue to this very day. I’ve told Nick again and again that I’ll never forgive him for it, and by God I mean it, too.