Green Day

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Green Day
Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Green Day has sold more than 85 million records worldwide. The group has won five Grammy Awards: Best Alternative Album for Dookie, (the jewel in the crown of their ’90s punk era), Best Rock Album for American Idiot, Record of the Year for “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”, Best Rock Album for the second time for 21st Century Breakdown and Best Musical Show Album for American Idiot: The Original Broadway Cast Recording. In 2010, a stage adaptation of American Idiot debuted on Broadway. The musical was nominated for three Tony Awards.

Billie Joe Armstrong was born in Oakland, California and raised in nearby Rodeo, the youngest of six children. Armstrong’s father, a jazz musician and truck driver for Safeway, died of esophageal cancer in 1982 when Armstrong was 10. His mother worked as waitress at Rod’s Hickory Pit restaurant in El Cerrito, (where Armstrong and Mike Dirnt played their first gig on October 17, 1987). Billie Joe got his first electric guitar, a Fernandes Stratocaster copy nicknamed ‘Blue’, when he was 10 – a gift from his mother, which Armstrong still plays to this day. The guitar is so iconic in fact; there is a company that makes replicas of the Strat.

Armstrong first met Michael Pritchard in the school cafeteria, and they immediately bonded over their love of music. Dirnt was adopted when he was six weeks old, after being given up by his heroin-addicted teenage mother. He apparently adopted the name ‘Dirnt’ from school, where his favourite hobby was playing “air-bass”.

Both started to learn guitar – the two spent much time at Armstrong’s house where they played songs by various artists, such as Ramones, Ozzy Osbourne, Def Leppard, Hüsker Dü, AC/DC, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Replacements, The Who and Van Halen. At the age of 15, they formed Sweet Children with Billie Joe singing and playing lead guitar, Mike playing rhythm guitar, Sean Hughes on bass and Raj Punjabi on drums.

In 1988, Armstrong and Dirnt began working with former Isocracy drummer John Kiffmeyer, the following year they changed their name to Green Day, choosing the name because of their fondness for marijuana. The band were joint-smokers since puberty and Billie Joe got his nickname, “Two Dollar Bill,” from selling joints at that price at his high school.

Owner of Lookout! Records Larry Livermore saw the band play an early show and signed the group to his label resulting in the release of its debut extended play, 1,000 Hours in 1989. (In 1985, Livermore formed the Lookouts, a punk-rock band whose 12-year-old drummer, Tre Cool, later went on to join Green Day).

Green Day’s debut studio album, 39/Smooth was released early 1990 and by 1991 after Tré Cool had been filling in as a temporary member he became Green Day’s permanent drummer. The band went on tour for most of 1992 and 1993, and played a number of shows overseas in Europe. The band’s second studio album Kerplunk sold 50,000 copies in the US.

Now with a fervent fan base, 1993 saw the band leave Lookout! Records and sign with Reprise Records after attracting the attention of producer Rob Cavallo. The band went to work on recording their major label debut, Dookie which was recorded in three weeks, and released in February 1994. Dookie became a commercial success, helped by extensive MTV airplay for the videos of the songs “Longview”, “Basket Case”, and “When I Come Around”, all of which reached the number-one position on the Modern Rock Tracks charts. The album went on to sell over 10 million copies in the US.

Green Day were now well and truly established as a high profile act playing sold out tours. During a performance on September 9, 1994 at Hatch Memorial Shell in Boston, mayhem broke out during the band’s set and by the end of the rampage, 100 people were injured and 45 arrested. The band also joined the line-ups of both the Lollapalooza festival and Woodstock ’94, where the group started an infamous mud fight. During the concert, a security guard mistook bassist Mike Dirnt for a stage-invading fan and punched out some of his teeth. Viewed by millions by pay-per-view television, the Woodstock 1994 performance further aided Green Day’s growing publicity and recognition, and helped push its album to eventual diamond status. In 1995, Dookie won the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Album and the band was nominated for nine MTV Video Music Awards including Video of the Year.

Though Insomniac (1995), Nimrod (1997) and Warning (2000), did not match the success of Dookie, Insomniac and Nimrod reached double platinum and Warning achieved gold status. Green Day’s seventh album, American Idiot (2004), a rock opera, was delayed when the album’s master tapes were stolen during recording sessions. Rather than re-recording that material, the band decided to start over from scratch. When released it found popularity with a younger generation, selling six million copies in the US., charting in 27 countries, and peaking at number one in 19. American Idiot eventually sold 16 million copies worldwide and won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Album in 2005. The seven-minute epic “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” is a memorial to Billie Joe’s father.

The band’s eighth studio 21st Century Breakdown (produced by Butch Vig), released in 2009 achieved the band’s best chart performance and once again gave Green Day a Grammy Award for Best Rock Album at the 52nd Grammy Awards the following year. This was followed by a trilogy of albums, ¡Uno!, ¡Dos! and ¡Tré!, recoded at Jingletown Studios in Oakland, California and released in September, November and December 2012 respectively.

Green Day’s twelfth studio album, Revolution Radio, was released on October 7, 2016 and became their third to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 as well as peaking at number-one in the UK.

At just 43, Armstrong, Dirnt and Tré Cool are the youngest ever inductees into the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame. The band was inducted in 2015, the first year they were eligible. For better or worse, the trio are responsible for inspiring an entire generation of pop-punk bands – influencing countless bands and fans throughout the world.

Important Dates In The Life Of Green Day:

On this day in music
18 Sep 2019
A Chinese study called for a publicity programme that could enhance public awareness of the negative impact of listening to fast music when driving. The study claimed that drivers should keep music below 120 beats per minute saying that a track like ’American Idiot’ by Green Day - at 189 beats per minute - was a dangerous song to listen to when driving and Stairway To Heaven by Led Zeppelin was a safe song at 63 beats per minute.
20 Apr 2018
Swedish DJ, remixer, and record producer, Avicii died aged 28. He was nominated for a Grammy for Best Dance Recording with 'Levels' at the 2013 Grammy Awards. His biggest single was 2013’s 'Wake Me Up'. He recorded with Wyclef Jean, Robbie Williams, ABBA members Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, Rita Ora and Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day.
18 Apr 2015
Green Day was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a part of the 2015 class, in their first year of eligibility.
1 Sep 2011
Billy Joe Armstrong was thrown off a Southwest flight because the singer was wearing his pants too low. A flight attendant had approached Armstrong and told him, "Pull your pants up or you get off the plane." Later, Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins released a statement saying that the airline and the Green Day pop star had settled their differences over the incident.
15 Feb 2006
Winners at this year's Brit Awards included, James Blunt who won British male solo artist, British female solo artist went to KT Tunstall. Coldplay won Best British album for X&Y and Best British single for 'Speed of Sound.' Kaiser Chiefs won Best British group and Best British Live Act, British urban act went to Lemar, British breakthrough act was Arctic Monkeys, International breakthrough act was won by Jack Johnson, with Madonna winning International female solo artist. Green Day won International group and Best International album with American Idiot and Outstanding contribution to music went to Paul Weller.
17 Dec 2005
U2 had the top-grossing tour of 2005, according to Billboard. More than three million people watched the band's sell-out 90-date Vertigo tour which grossed $260m (£146.6m). The Eagles, took $117m (£66m) from 77 shows and Neil Diamond grossed more than $71m (£40m). Kenny Chesney was fourth with $63m (£35.5m), Paul McCartney $60m (£33.8m), Rod Stewart with $49m (£27m), Elton John with $45.5m (£25.6m), Dave Matthews Band with $45m (£25.3m), Jimmy Buffett with $41m (£23m) and Green Day with $36.5m (£20.5m).
3 Nov 2005
Winners at this years MTV Europe awards included Coldplay who won best UK act and best song for 'Speed Of Sound’, Green Day won best rock act and best album, Alicia Keys was named best R&B act, System of a Down won best alternative act, The Black Eyed Peas won the best pop award and for the first time, the awards included a category for best African act, won by 2 Face. Madonna, in her first live TV performance since a riding accident, launched the show by emerging from a giant disco ball. Madonna also presented MTV's 'Free Your Mind' humanitarian award to Live 8 organiser Bob Geldof.
28 Aug 2005
Green Day cleaned up at this years MTV awards held in Miami winning seven awards including, Video of the Year for 'Boulevard of Broken Dreams' and the Viewer's Choice Award. Best Choreography went to Gwen Stefani for ‘Hollaback Girl’ and Breakthrough Video went to Gorillaz for ‘Feel Good Inc.’ The awards went ahead despite concerns over Hurricane Katrina, which hit Florida last week, and after a shooting at a pre-awards party.
26 Aug 2005
Green Day were named best band on the planet at the 12th annual Kerrang! rock awards, they also won best live act. Welsh metal group Funeral For a Friend won best British band, while New Jersey's My Chemical Romance picked up best album and best video. Iron Maiden were inducted into the Kerrang! Hall of Fame and Marilyn Manson took the Icon Award. Best single went to Foo Fighters 'Best of You' while Trivium were named best international newcomers. Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor was named classic songwriter while Killing Joke were given a lifetime achievement accolade.
2 Jul 2005
The world's biggest music stars united in concerts around the world to put pressure on political leaders ahead of the G8 summit to tackle poverty in Africa. Concerts in 10 cities, including London, Philadelphia, Paris, Berlin, Johannesburg, Rome and Moscow played to hundreds of thousands of people. A TV audience of several hundred million watched the gigs. In London Pink Floyd, The Who, Madonna, U2, Coldplay, Sting, The Scissor Sisters, Keane, and Paul McCartney performed. Philadelphia saw, Destiny's Child, Jay-Z and Bon Jovi, Canada, Bryan Adams and Neil Young headlined, Bjork headlined in Tokyo and Green Day played in Berlin.
16 Jan 2005
The Killers started a two week run at No.1 on the UK charts with their debut album 'Hot Fuss.' The Las Vegas band also entered the UK singles chart at No.3 with 'Somebody Told Me'. Green Day were at No.1 on the US album chart with 'American Idiot.'
2 Jan 2005
Green Day were at No.1 on the UK album chart with their seventh album 'American Idiot.' The album went on to be nominated for seven Grammy Awards, winning the Best Rock Album of 2005.
26 Sep 2004
Green Day scored their first UK No.1 album with 'American Idiot' the bands seventh release.
27 Aug 2004
Winners at this years Kerrang! awards included The Darkness for best British band and best live band, best band on the planet award went to Metallica. Green Day were inducted into the Kerrang! Hall of Fame, Lostprophets won the best single for 'Last Train Home' and best album went to Muse for 'Absolution'.
27 Aug 2004
Green Day, The Darkness, The White Stripes, Morrissey, The Libertines, Franz Ferdinand, The Hives, 50 Cent, (50 Cent was booed off stage after being greeted by a rain of bottles thrown at him and his G-Unit crew as they came onstage). The Streets, The Vines, Soulwax, Dogs Die In Hot Cars, The Offspring, Ash, Placebo and Lostprophets all appeared at this years UK Carling Weekend in Reading and Leeds, England.
5 Jan 2003
Green Day's lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong was arrested on suspicion of drink driving after being stopped in California speeding in a black BMW convertible. He failed a breath test and was taken to Berkeley county jail and was later released on $1,053 (£657) bail.
21 Oct 1995
Green Day singer Billie Joe was arrested and fined $141 after mooning at the audience during a gig in Milwaukee.
13 Aug 1994
Woodstock '94 was held in Saugerties, New York, attended by over 350,000 fans, the festival featured Green Day, Nine Inch Nails, Aerosmith and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Tickets cost $135.00, (£89.00).
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