Green Day

  • Punk rock band formed in 1986 from East Bay California. Their main line-up is Billie Joe Armstrong (lead vocals, guitar), Mike Dirnt (born Michael Pritchard, bass guitar, backing vocals), and Tré Cool (born Frank Wright, drums, backing vocals).
  • Armstrong and Dirnt were 14 year old friends, and they started a punk rock band called Sweet Children, along with drummer Raj Punjabi. Soon, Punjabi was replaced with John Kiffmeyer. Kiffmeyer had connections in the underground music community in Northern California, and he connected the band with an independent record label, who signed them after the owner watched them perform. Armstrong and Dirnt were 16 years old. The band changed their name to Green Day – smoking pot was popular with the band, and Green Day is a term used for spending an entire day smoking pot.
  • In 1989, the band released an EP, called 1,000 Hours. The next year, their debut studio album was released – 39/Smooth. It sold close to 3,000 copies in its first year. Two more EPs were released. The band played in smaller clubs across the U.S., establishing a fan base. After the tour, Kiffmeyer enrolled in college, and was replaced by Tré Cool.
  • Their second album, Kerplunk!, was released in 1991. The record sold over 50,000 copies – considered a success for the band on an independent label. Subsequently, after the band was successful, it was re-released in 2007, and more than 4 million copies of the record have been sold.
  • The success of Kerplunk! stirred the attention of major labels, and the band signed with a different label in 1993. By 1994, they released Dookie, which was their breakthrough album. It peaked at #2 on the Billboard 200 album chart, and sold over 10 million copies in the U.S., and 20 million worldwide. Three singles hit #1 on the Alternative Songs chart – Longview, Basket Case and When I Come Around. Many credit this album as the one that made punk music acceptable to mainstream music – much to the contempt of other punk rock bands. Dookie won a Grammy for Best Alternative Album.
  • Green Day contributed the song J.A.R. to the soundtrack to the film Angus in 1995. J.A.R. stands for Jason Andrew Relva, a childhood friend of Dirnt who died in a car accident. The song debuted at #1 on the Alternative Songs chart.
  • Their next 2 albums, Insomniac and Nimrod, each were double platinum, with singles that were popular on the Alternative Songs chart. The biggest hit from these albums was Good Riddance (Time of Your Life). Nimrod was a departure from their punk roots – the album had more of a soft side, more mainstream alternative than their previous work.
  • In 2000, they released their sixth studio album, Warning. Sales were modest, and people wondered if Green Day was no longer relevant. Those questions were answered with the release of 2004’s masterpiece, American Idiot. It is presented as a punk rock opera, depicting life in America under the control of an idiot ruler who let people be misinformed by the media and a “redneck agenda.” The record sold 14 million copies worldwide, with over 6 million in the U.S. The single Boulevard of Broken Dreams hit #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and #1 on the Alternative Songs chart. Three other songs – American Idiot, Holiday, and Wake Me Up When September Ends, peaked at #1 or #2 on the Alternative chart. The album won a Grammy for Best Rock Album in 2005, and a Boulevard of Broken Dreams won the Grammy for Record of the Year in 2006.
  • In 2009, a theatrical version of American Idiot was developed, and in 2010, it opened on Broadway. It played 422 shows on Broadway, and it won 2 Tony awards. The Broadway Cast Recording won a Grammy Award.
  • Green Day has released 5 more studio albums. Hit singles from these albums include Know Your Enemy, 21 Guns, Oh Love, Bang Bang and Still Breathing. The album 21st Century Breakdown won a Grammy for Best Rock Album.
  • In 2015, Green Day was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the first year that they were eligible.
  • Rolling Stone places American Idiot at #225 and Dookie at #193 on their list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
  • Green Day is one reason why alternative music in the 90s is so good, and their run in the 00s and 10s shows their staying power. I like their evolution to alternative rock – I hope my punk rock readers will forgive me for that. Watch the video to their terrific song, Boulevard of Broken Dreams. 

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