Green Day has been rocking the Bay Area pop-punk sound for nearly 30 years. Starting out as snot-nosed punks singing about girls, smoking pot and masturbating, the trio of Billie Joe Armstrong (vocals, guitar, harmonica), Mike Dirnt (nee Prichard; bass, backing vocals) and Tré Cool (nee Frank Edwin Wright III; drums, backing vocals) grew into masters of the rock music game. Not only did they make rock history once with 1994s ‘Dookie,’ but they did it again 10 years later with 2004s ‘American Idiot.’ The latter inspired a groundbreaking musical, launching Green Day into a new stratosphere. Their music has influenced countless bands and fans throughout the world. In 2015, their place in rock history was set as they were proudly inducted into the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame. Read on to find out more about these modern day rock legends.
Number Fifteen: They Have Had Two Official Drummers
Tré Cool was not always Green Day’s drummer. When the band formed as Sweet Children, Al Sobrante (Isocracy’s John Kiffmeyer) was behind the skins. When he left to attend college, Billie Joe Armstrong and Mike Dirnt were introduced to Tré Cool, then drummer for The Lookouts, who filled in with the band during shows. The rest is pop-punk history. Although he was not inducted into the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame with the others, Kiffmeyer did play a show with Green Day (as Sweet Children) three days before the induction, his first time back on stage since leaving the band.
Number Fourteen: The Have a Fourth Member
If you’re wondering who that fourth guy in Green Day is, that’s Jason White. A touring musician with the band since 1999, he officially became a member in 2012. He also happens to be the lead singer of Armstrong’s other band, Pinhead Gunpowder.
Number Thirteen: Armstrong Still Plays Blue
If you have been to a Green Day show any time in the last 30 years, you may have noticed Billie Joe Armstrong playing a blue and white Fernandes Stratocaster with stickers and his initials on it. That’s Blue, the first electric guitar he ever owned. A gift from his mother, you can still see Armstrong playing Blue to this very day. The guitar is so iconic in fact, there is a company that makes replicas of the Strat for purchase.
Number Twelve: Like Father Like Sons
The apple didn’t fall far from the tree as both Joey and Jakob Armstrong, sons of Billie Joe Armstrong, are budding musicians. Joey plays drums for punk band Swmrs (originally Emily’s Army), whose three of their albums were produced by Billie Joe and released on his Adeline Records label. Jakob is a singer, songwriter and guitarist, and released his first tracks in 2015 under Jakob Danger (Danger is his middle name). Further, in 2011, Billie Joe Armstrong formed a band with his wife and two sons called The Boo and released a self-titled EP that same year.
Number Eleven: Green Day Have Secret Side Projects
The members of Green Day have a long history of creating secret side projects that they do not associate with themselves (if that makes sense). In 2003, The Network, a futuristic new wave band of aliens sent to “rid us of the mediocre music that has inhabited our planet for too long,” came out with an album titled ‘Money Money 2020’ on Billie Joe Armstrong’s Adeline Records label. Rumors swirled about Green Day’s involvement and the band was quick to shut down anyone who said the bands were one in the same. The band pulled a similar stunt in 2007 when a mysterious band called the Foxboro Hot Tubs came on the scene, releasing the excellent ‘Stop Drop and Roll’ in 2008. Green Day again denied being involved, until Armstrong later confessed that “The only similarity between Foxboro Hot Tubs and Green Day is that we are the same band.” Green Day then recorded a Foxboro Hot Tubs song for their 2010 album, ‘Dos.’ Armstrong is also a member of punk band Pinhead Gunpowder and Dirnt is a member of The Frustrators, but those projects are not a secret.
Number Ten: Green Day Were Banned from Playing Gilman Street
When Green Day signed to major label Warner Reprise, the band was banned from playing at the famed 924 Gilman Street, where they got their start. The band recently got this ban overturned when they played the venue during a benefit concert. There is currently a tribute album in the works to benefit the venue featuring up-and-coming Bay Area bands covering Green Day’s album, ‘Dookie.’
Number Nine: Armstrong is an Everly Brothers Fan
After hearing the Everly Brothers’ covers album ‘Songs Our Daddy Taught Us,’ Billie Joe Armstrong decided to cover the album track-for-track. At the advice of his wife, he asked songstress Norah Jones to duet with him on the album. ‘Foreverly’ was released in November 2013. The release was made even more poignant when Phil Everly passed away just two months later.
Number Eight: Armstrong Has Been Showing His Acting Chops
Armstrong has acted in several shows and movies, as well as on Broadway. This includes a role in John Roecker’s (who also directed Green Day documentary “Heart Like a Hand Grenade”) “Live Freaky, Die Freaky,” as Charles Manson, a brief appearance in an episode of “Nurse Jackie,” and starring roles in the indie films “Like Sunday, Like Rain” and “Geezer.” Armstrong also finished out “American Idiot’s” Broadway run as St. Jimmy.
Number Seven: Armstrong Caught the Theater Bug
Armstrong’s theater work didn’t stop with “American Idiot.” He also lent his songwriting talents to a musical called “These Paper Bullets.” Dubbed a “modish rip-off of William Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing,’” the show made its debut at the Yale Repertory Theater in March 2014 and opened at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles for a limited run in September 2015.
Number Six: Dirnt Owns a Restaurant
Mike Dirnt knows where you can get a good burger in the Bay Area. He holds an ownership stake in a restaurant called Rudy’s Can’t Fail Café in Emeryville. The restaurant was featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” in 2010. In 2011, a second Rudy’s opened its doors in Oakland.
Number Five: Armstrong Has Been Singing Since Five Years Old
Armstrong has been a singer for a long time, even before he knew what punk was. At the age of five, he recorded a song called “Look for Love.” The song can be found online and a snippet of a related interview can be heard at the beginning of “Maria,” off Green Day’s ‘International Superhits!’
Number Four: They Share Songwriting Duties
Armstrong may be the chief songwriter, but he isn’t the only member of Green Day who writes songs for the band. Both Dirnt and Tré Cool have taken part in songwriting duties. Dirnt’s additions include “Ha Ha You’re Dead,” “Nobody Likes You” and “Modern World.” However, Tré Cool’s additions are the most interesting by far. Besides writing “Rock and Roll Girlfriend,” he also wrote and sang “Dominated Love Slave,” “All By Myself,” “DUI,” and “Like A Rat Does Cheese.” Look these songs up and have a good laugh. You’re welcome.
Number Three: Green Day Have Their Own Video Game
In 2009, Green Day got their very own version of the popular video game Rock Band. Featuring ‘Dookie,’ ‘American Idiot’ and ’21st Century Breakdown’ in their entirety, as well as other classics from their repertoire, they are only one of two bands to ever get their own version of the game. The other is The Beatles.
Number Two: They Are Coffee Nuts
Armstrong and Dirnt, who previously recorded a song called “409 In Your Coffeemaker,” started their own coffee company in 2015. Called Oakland Coffee Works, it is the first brand of organic coffee in mass production to be packaged in compostable bags and pods.
Number One: They are the Youngest Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame Inductees
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. Their first official full-length album, ’39/Smooth,’ came out in 1990 on Lookout! Records. We hope you enjoyed our 15 interesting facts about Green Day.