Happy 50th birthday, Billie Joe Armstrong!
The Green Day frontman was born half-a-century ago today, on February 17, 1972. Growing up in Rodeo, California, Armstrong quickly became interested in music, and formed Green Day with childhood friend Mike Dirnt when he was just a teenager. Their first album, 39/Smooth, dropped in 1990, followed by 1991’s Kerplunk!, which marked drummer Tré Cool‘s debut.
Green Day soon became a local sensation in the local East Bay punk scene, but they exploded into the mainstream with their first major label album, 1994’s Dookie. The now RIAA-Diamond-certified record spawned singles including “Longview,” “Basket Case” and “When I Come Around.”
Dookie was followed by 1995’s Insomniac, 1997’s Nimrod and 2000’s Warning, and a greatest-hits compilation in 2001. With declining sales, some felt that Green Day had reached their peak, but the trio soon turned the doubters wrong with one of the most successful career transformations in rock of the new millennium.
In 2004, Green Day dropped American Idiot, an hour-long punk rock concept album that launched hit singles in the title track, “Holiday,” “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “Wake Me Up When September Ends.” American Idiot would become six-times Platinum, earn multiple Grammy wins and nominations, and was even adapted into a Tony-winning Broadway musical.
Green Day then released 21st Century Breakdown in 2009, followed by the 2012 trilogy of ¡Uno!, ¡Dos! and ¡Tré! That year, Armstrong entered rehab for substance abuse after an expletive-ridden rant during a live show. He returned to the band in 2013.
Armstrong and Green Day were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2015. They’ve since released two more albums, 2016’s Revolution Radio and 2020’s Father of All…
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