What ‘Today Show’s’ Willie Geist Said About Meeting Mick Jagger
Willie Geist of the Today Show and Sunday Today is a fan favorite for his affable demeanor and dry sense of humor. Son of famous CBS News journalist Bill Geist, the Sunday Today host started looking toward a broadcasting career at a young age.
Interviewing top celebs on a regular basis, Geist recalled meeting a rock icon who was one of his idols growing up.
‘Today’ star started in an unlikely job
With his Emmy Award-winning dad reporting top headlines for CBS, Geist was used to seeing broadcast news in the making.
“I grew up around television, around cameras,” he told Vanderbilt Magazine. “My dad used to shoot a lot of his pieces in our house in New Jersey. It became a part of our lives. I’d come down for breakfast, and there’d be lights and cameras all over the place. I’d look around and think, ‘That’d be a fun thing to get paid to do.’”
Yet upon graduating from Vanderbilt University in 1997, Geist took a job behind the wheel rather than a news desk and began driving a liquor delivery truck around his home area of northern New Jersey. Though he enjoyed the job, Geist says his parents let him know he needed a more lucrative occupation.
“It was a total blast,” the Today co-host shared. “I was delivering booze in an old beat-up, two-tone brown van that had rusted through a little bit. That job stretched on closer to the holidays, and my parents, having just paid for four years of Vanderbilt, said, ‘OK, what’s the actual job you’re going to get?’ I was having so much fun driving the liquor truck that I hadn’t really stopped to think about it.”
Willie Geist meets Stones frontman
Geist shared that throughout his childhood, songs from The Rolling Stones were his family’s go-to when it came to music. “My house was a huge Rolling Stones house growing up,” he told Serendipity Social. “My parents love The Stones, my uncles loved them. So those guys, they were gods.”
The Today star revealed that he landed the opportunity to meet and interview The Stones’ iconic front man. “I got the chance to interview Mick Jagger in Mississippi where he was shooting,” Geist said in 2014. “He’s the executive producer of the James Brown biopic [Get on Up], so I got to go on set and meet him.”
The journalist admitted he wasn’t sure of what to expect upon coming face-to-face with Jagger. “I couldn’t figure out what was gonna happen when I met him,” Geist said. “Would I be in panic mode because this guy is one of my heroes? Or would it be like seeing an old friend? You’re sitting in a chair with Mick Jagger three feet away from you, and he’s going to sit and talk to you and listen to your questions — I mean, that’s just so cool!”
Apparently all the years Geist spent listening to Jagger’s music paid off, where their meeting was like spending time with a friend. “Oddly — and I think it was just because I know so much about him — I became totally comfortable around him,” Geist explained.
Willie Geist’s hero
Despite his devotion to Jagger, Geist considers someone else his hero. “Professionally and personally, my dad is my hero,” he told Vanderbilt Magazine. “He showed me—not by sitting me down and telling me, but by his example—that a life in journalism, a life in the media, could be rewarding and also fun. He was the guy I looked up to, and it remains that way.”
Yet his father takes little credit for his son’s success. “I’m extremely proud,” Bill Geist shared in a 2012 interview with The Record. “At first I was reluctant to say ‘proud,’ because that kind of insinuates that I had something to do with it. I mean, we never had any sit-down talks where I told him how to be successful.”
Bill Geist revealed in 2012 that he’s been dealing with Parkinson’s disease for 20 years. Geist praised his father’s tenacity in handling the illness on a daily basis. “It was tough for him to do. He doesn’t want to be known as ‘the sick guy,’” Geist said. “But he’s showing people that you can continue living your life and not shrink from the disease. That makes me appreciate him even more.”
Watch Willie Geist on the Today Show and Sunday Today!