Green Day is an American rock trio formed in 1987. The band has consisted of Billie Joe Armstrong (vocals, guitar), Mike Dirnt (bass guitar, vocals), and Tré Cool (drums, percussion) for the majority of its existence.
Green Day was originally part of the punk rock scene at 924 Gilman Street, Berkeley in East Bay, CA, United States . Its early releases for independent record label Lookout! Records earned them a grassroots fanbase, some of whom felt alienated when the band signed to a major label. Nevertheless, its major label debut Dookie (1994) became a breakout success and eventually sold over 10 million copies in the US. and 15 million worldwide. As a result, Green Day was widely credited, alongside fellow California punk bands The Offspring and Rancid, with reviving mainstream interest in and popularizing punk rock in the United States. Green Day’s three follow-up albums, Insomniac, Nimrod and Warning did not achieve the massive success of Dookie, but they were still successful, reaching double platinum, double platinum, and gold status respectively. Green Day’s 2004 rock opera American Idiot reignited the band’s popularity with a younger generation, selling five million copies in the U.S.The band’s eighth studio album, 21st Century Breakdown, was released on May 15, 2009. Green Day has sold over 22 million records in the United States.They have won three Grammy Awards; Best Alternative Album for Dookie, Best Rock Album for American Idiot, and Record of the Year for Boulevard of Broken Dreams.
In 1987, friends Billie Joe Armstrong and Mike Dirnt, 15 years old at the time, formed a band called Sweet Children. The first Sweet Children show took place on October 17, 1987, at Rod’s Hickory Pit in Vallejo, California where Armstrong’s mother was working.In 1988, Armstrong and Dirnt began working with former Isocracy drummer, John Kiffmeyer (also known as Al Sobrante). Kiffmeyer served as both the band’s drummer and business manager, handling the booking of shows and helping the band establish a fan base.
Larry Livermore, owner of Lookout! Records, saw the band play an early show and signed them to his label. In 1989 they recorded their first EP, 1,000 Hours. Before 1,000 Hours was released, the band dropped the name Sweet Children, according to Livermore this was done in order to avoid confusion with another local band Sweet Baby.The band adopted the name Green Day, allegedly due to their fondness of marijuana.
Lookout! would release Green Day’s first LP, 39/Smooth in early 1990. Green Day would record two EPs later that year: Slappy and Sweet Children, the latter of which included some older songs they had recorded for Minneapolis indie label Skene! Records. In 1991, Lookout! Records released 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours, a compilation of the 39/Smooth, Slappy, and 1,000 Hours EPs. In late 1990, shortly after the band’s first nationwide tour, Sobrante left the East Bay area to attend college.
The Lookouts drummer Tré Cool began filling in as a temporary replacement, and when it became clear that Sobrante did not plan on committing to the band full time, Tré Cool’s position as Green Day’s drummer became permanent. The band went on tour for most of 1992 and 1993, and played a stretch of shows overseas in Europe. The band’s second full length album Kerplunk sold about 50,000 copies in the U.S., which was considered quite a large amount for the independent punk scene in 1992.
Kerplunk’s underground success led to a wave of interest coming from major record labels, and eventually they left Lookout! on friendly terms and signed with Reprise Records after attracting the attention of producer Rob Cavallo. Signing to Reprise caused many punk rock fans to regard Green Day as sellouts.Reflecting on the period, Armstrong told SPIN magazine in 1999, “I couldn’t go back to the punk scene, whether we were the biggest success in the world or the biggest failure … The only thing I could do was get on my bike and go forward.” After signing with Reprise, the band went to work on recording its major label debut, Dookie.
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