Green Day were one of the latter-day punk bands to emerge from the 924 Gilman Street club scene in Berkeley, California. Champions of East Bay punk-pop, their mid-'90s success helped bring punk briefly to the forefront of the music industry, which caused a backlash among some fans who accused them of "selling out." They were banned from Gilman Street after signing with the major label Reprise Records.
After their first two independent releases, Green Day developed a fervent fanbase, which prompted a bidding war among record labels eager to sign them. They milked the attention for all it was worth, allowing labels to pay for trips, dinners and alcohol even though they had no interest in most of them. They made one suitor take them to Disneyland.
Billie Joe recorded and released his first single "Looking For Love" at the age of 5 on Fiat records. The first song he wrote and then recorded was "Why Do You Want Him?" when he was 12.
Armstrong and Dirnt played together in a band called Sweet Children before forming Green Day. They once played at a high school party with the band The Lookouts in a remote mountain location near Willits, California. Only five kids showed up for the party and there was no electricity in the house, so Sweet Children had to play using a generator and candlelight, but they played, as Lookouts singer/guitarist Larry Livermore put it, "As if they were the Beatles at Shea Stadium."
The band's name comes from a term referring to a day spent smoking pot, hanging around, and doing absolutely nothing. 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. It is widely reported that when the boys went to their high school principal to say that they were dropping out to become a full-time band the principal observed that "would be a green day in hell" before they amounted to anything.
At age 12, Tre Cool became a member of the band The Lookouts. Their album attracted some attention, and Tre began performing at an early age at 924 Gilman Street. In 1987, Armstrong and Dirnt formed The Sweet Children with Armstrong on lead vocals and guitar and Dirnt on bass and backing vocals. They began playing in 1988 at Rod's Hickory Pit in Rodeo, California. In 1989, the Children renamed themselves Green Day, after their first semi-successful song. They soon added Al Sobrante (born John Kiftmeyer), and went looking for a record deal.
Green Day signed with Lookout Records in 1989 and released their first EP, 1,000 Hours And Slappy in 1990. The next year, they produced the album 39/Smooth and released it in 1991. (The EPs would eventually be re-released on one CD as 1039 Smoothed Out Slappy Hours). Al Sobrante left the band at this point, and was replaced by Tre. Green Day kicked off a national tour the day after Dirnt graduated from high school in 1990, then returned to the studio to produce their second album Kerplunk in 1992. The group signed with Reprise Records in April 1993 and released Dookie in February 1994.
They played both Lollapalooza and Woodstock 1994. At their Woodstock gig, a mud fight broke out between the band and the audience. The audience won: Dirnt ended up losing his front teeth.
Mike Dirnt was adopted. His adopted parents got divorced when he was young.
Billie Joe's father died of cancer when Billie was 10 years old. Before he died, he gave Billie Joe his first guitar. Billie named it Blue and now has many replicas of it. (thanks, Ashy - Yonkers, NY, for above 2)
Billie Joe Armstrong is a playable character in the skateboarding game Tony Hawk's American Wasteland. The game also includes numerous Marvel characters. (thanks, Alex - Glendale, AZ)
Armstrong married Adrienne Nesser in 1994, shortly after Dookie was released. The couple met in 1990 when Green Day played a show in Minnesota, where Adrienne lived. They have two children, Jacob and Joesph. Tre Cool has been married twice, and divorced twice, and has two children, Frankito and Ramone. Mike Dirnt also has a daughter, Estelle.
Every member in Green Day has tattoos, but they all have "E.B.P.M." somewhere on their bodies, meaning "East Bay Punk Mafia."
Other bands Billie Joe was in were Pinhead Gunpowder, Blatz, Goodbye Harry and Corrupted Morals and Rancid. Other instruments he plays are the drums, harmonica, guitar and the mandolin.
Billie Joe's cat, Zero, died in a tragic washing machine accident.
In the film Freaky Friday the daughter Anna (played by Lindsay Lohan) has a Green Day poster in her room.
During soundcheck, Billie Joe likes to practice on the drums, and Tre likes to play frisbee with the other crew members while they are riding skateboards. Tre also gives away a pair of drumsticks to a random person watching the soundcheck.
Tre is the godfather of Billie Joe's kids.
Billie Joe's hair is naturally reddish brown. If you've seen him with it dyed, you know he's no-holds-barred: blue, red, green, orange, and bright yellow are regularly rotated.
The first instrument Tre played was violin when he was nine years old. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
Armstrong is double jointed in his elbows.
Dirnt worked as a cook before Green Day became famous.
Armstrong is the youngest of six children.
The band has always been very candid about their drug use. When they started out, they talked openly about their recreational use of amphetamines, alcohol, and of course, marijuana. With the "War On Drug" still raging, this was an unusual admission.
In 2015, the band were inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, with pop-punk band Fall Out Boy inducting the band at the ceremony on April 18th. To celebrate, Green Day performed a two-hour-plus show at the House of Blues in Cleveland two days before the ceremony, featuring a special hour-long set as their original Sweet Children incarnation - complete with original drummer John Kiffmeyer performing with them for the first time in well over two decades. They also invited Rancid singer Tim Armstrong up to play some songs, including the Rancid song "Radio" that Billie Joe Armstrong had co-written for the band back in 1993.