Billie Joe Armstrong was born in Piedmont, California, a small town surrounded by the city of Oakland, and was raised in Rodeo, California, as the youngest of six children to Andrew "Andy" Armstrong and Ollie Jackson. His father worked as a jazz musician and truck driver for Safeway Inc. to support his family. He died of esophageal cancer on September 10, 1982. The song "Wake Me Up When September Ends" is a memorial to his father. He has five older siblings: David, Alan, Marci, Hollie, and Anna. His mother worked at Rod's Hickory Pit restaurant in El Cerrito. Armstrong and Mike Pritchard's first live performance was at Rod's Hickory Pit in 1987; their first performance under the name Green Day was in Davis, a college town approximately an hour's drive northeast of San Francisco Bay.
Armstrong's interest in music started at a young age. He attended Hillchest Elementary School in Rodeo, where a teacher encouraged him to record a song titled "Look for Love" at the age of five on the Bay Area label Fiat Records. After his father died, his mother married a man whom her children disliked, which resulted in Armstrong's further retreat into music. At the age of 10, Armstrong met Mike Dirnt in the school cafeteria and they immediately bonded over their love of music. He became interested in punk rock after being introduced to punk rock by his brothers. Armstrong has also cited Minneapolis-based bands The Replacements and Husker Du as major musical influences.
Armstrong attended John Swett High School, also in Crockett, and later Pinole Valley High School in Pinole, California, but then dropped out to pursue his musical career.
In 1987, aged 15, Armstrong formed a band called Sweet Children with his childhood friend Mike Pritchard. In the beginning, Pritchard and Armstrong both played guitar, with John Kiffmeyer on drums, and Sean Hughes on bass. After a few performances, Hughes left the band in 1988; Pritchard then began playing bass and they became a three-piece band. They changed their name to Green Day in April 1989, choosing the name because of their fondness for marijuana. That same year, they released their debut EP 1,000 Hours through Lookout Records. They recorded their debut studio album 39/Smooth and the extended play Slappy in 1990, which were later combined with 1,000 Hours into the compilation 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours in 1991. Frank Edwin Wright III eventually became Green Day's drummer in late 1990 when Sobrante left Green Day in order to go to college. California punk band Rancid's lead singer Tim Armstrong asked Armstrong to join his band, but he refused owing to the progress with Green Day. Wright made his debut on Green Day's second album, Kerplunk. With their next album, Dookie (1994), the band broke through into the mainstream, and have remained one of the most popular rock bands of the 1990s and 2000s with over 60 million records sold worldwide. In 2009, their hit American Idiot became a musical on Broadway.
Apart from working with Green Day and side-band Pinhead Gunpowder, Armstrong has collaborated with many artists over the years. He has co-written for The Go-Go's ("Unforgiven") and former Avengers singer Penelope Houston ("The Angel and The Jerk" and "New Day"), co-written a song with Rancid ("Radio"), and sung backing vocals with Melissa Auf der Maur on Ryan Adams' "Do Miss America" (where they acted as the backing band for Iggy Pop on his Skull Ring album ("Private Hell" and "Supermarket"). Armstrong has produced an album for The Riverdales. He has also been confirmed to be part of a side project called The Network, which released an album called Money Money 2020. Money Money 2020 was released on Adeline Records, a record label co-owned by Armstrong. Armstrong also provided lead guitar and backing vocals on 3 songs for The Lookouts' final extended play IV (1989).
Hoping to clear his head and develop new ideas for songs, Armstrong traveled to New York City alone for a few weeks, renting a small apartment in the East Village of Manhattan. He spent much of this time taking long walks and participating in jam sessions in the basement of Hi-Fi, a bar in Manhattan. However, the friends he made during this time drank too much for his liking, which was the catalyst for Armstrong's return to the Bay Area. After returning home, Armstrong was arrested on DUI charges on January 5, 2003, and released on $1,200 bail.
In 2010, Armstrong joined the cast of American Idiot, which won two Tonys, for one week in the role of St. Jimmy. He replaced the original Broadway cast member Tony Vincent from September 28 to October 3. (American Idiot is an adaption of Green Day's concept album of the same name). Armstrong returned to the role of St. Jimmy for 50 performances beginning January 1, 2011.
On Thursday, July 26, 2012 it was announced he joined Season 3 of NBC's The Voice as a mentor for Christina Aguilera. He will mentor the artists on Aguilera's team where she serves as a coach.
In 1990, Armstrong met Adrienne Nesser at one of Green Day's early performances in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They married on July 2, 1994, and the day after their wedding, Adrienne discovered she was pregnant. Their first child, Joseph Marciano Armstrong, who was born on February 28, 1995, now plays drums in a Berkeley-based band named Emily's Army. Their second child, Jakob Danger Armstrong, was born on September 12, 1998. Billie Joe is the co-owner of Adeline Records, along with his wife.
|Adrienne Armstrong||(2 July 1994 - present) 2 children|
Black shirt and a red necktie
Guitar and vocals for punk band Green Day, as well as 'Pinhead Gunpowder'.
2 children: Joseph Marciano, born February 28, 1995, and Jakob Danger, born September 12, 1998.
Has a recording studio built in his basement
His guitar is nicknamed "Blue" and he's had it since he was eleven years old.
Youngest of six children.
Wrote his first song, "Why Do You Want Him", when he was only 14 (the song appears on 1,039 Smoothed Out Slappy Hours, Green Day's debut album).
Dropped out of high school.
He wrote the song "Brain Stew" while trying to get Joseph (his child) to go to sleep.
He enjoys getting people up on stage to play instruments for the band when Green Day play live.
Has also played in bands such as: Blatz, Rancid, the Lookouts, Goodbye Harry, Corrupted Morals, and still plays with 'Pinhead Gunpowder'.
He also plays harmonica, mandolin, drums and piano and most recently the saxophone.
He wrote the song 'Church on Sunday' about his wife Adrienne, convincing her to stay and not separate. the song appears on Green Day's album Warning, released in 2000
Wrote the song 'Wake Me Up When September Ends' about his father's death when he was a young child and how he dealt with it then and deals with it now. The song appears on the album 'American Idiot' released in 2004
His natural hair color is reddish-brown.
Lives in Oakland and Newport Beach, California and also has a home near his wife's family in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
He and the rest of Green Day allowed indie label "Lookout Records" to keep the titles of their releases prior to "Dookie". They did this to foster a following for the record label, if kids got into them and wanted to hear earlier stuff by the band, the money would help keep Lookout Records going.
Five older siblings: David, Allen, Marcy, Holly and Anna.
His mother is from Oklahoma.
His mother gave birth to him when she was 40.
His oldest sibling is 22 years older than him.
His father was half English and half Italian. From his mother's side, he is of Irish, Dutch, Scottish and Cherokee (Native American) descent.
Dropped out of high school one day before his 18th birthday.
He is listed as a "ginger traitor" in the book "The Ginger Survival Guide" for dying his naturally ginger hair.
Contrary to popular belief, his birth name is actually "Billie Joe" and not "William Joseph".
Father, Andrew (deceased) and mother, Ollie.
Brother-in-law of Steve Nesser and Natalie Nesser.
School is practice for the future, and practice makes perfect. But nobody's perfect, so why practice?
You think your life is tough? Try being a parent!
My mom was from Oklahoma, hence the name Billie Joe . . . It's not William Joseph, it's "just" Billie Joe.
A guy walks up to me and asks, "What's Punk?". So I kick over a garbage can and say. "That's punk!". So he kicks over the garbage can and says, "That's Punk?", and I say, "No that's trendy!"
I sound like an Englishman impersonating an American impersonating an Englishman.
[on if he believes in heaven] I consider myself an agnostic, so I'm not really sure. I kind of believe that there's something possibly out there. I'm not stubborn enough to cancel that out. I believe there's a higher power somewhere. I just don't know what it is. I really like a lot of Catholic symbolism. Me and Adrienne collect a lot of crucifixes and rosary beads and stuff like that. In our house, we have a lot of candles and stuff like that.
[on what he would like to do instead of music] I've done some producing, that I can do. But acting for me, I'm pretty sure I don't know how to do that. I really don't want to go through a process of trying to figure out how to do it. I think as soon as you start acting that realness of you that people love is gone because you're pretending to be something else on screen.
[on the media] You know, I've made it a point not to read a thing. From what people have been telling me, everything has been really positive. Hey, it's the kids who are going to buy our records and they're not going to read things written in Entertainment Weekly anyway. Critics never really want to like my band. I think they have this thing up their asses that we are a lesser band now. They feel we weren't the originators of punk rock or we are not cool or whatever. So everything that comes from these people sounds somehow backhanded, like with the Spin piece. For a while, we were a best kept secret and for a long time none of these bigger magazines knew about Look Out Records or for that matter the Berkeley scene in general. At the time, I think that irritated them a bit. To them, if they don't know about it, it obviously wasn't cool enough to begin with.
Punk is always something that's going to be with us and to try and explain that would be stupid at this point.
Minority is about being an individual. It's like you have to sift through the darkness to find your place and be that individual you want to be your entire life.
There's nothing wrong with being a loser, it just depends on how good you are at it.
One thing I want to teach my son is sensitivity to other people. I want to teach him not to be this macho freak.
A lot of people, when they talk to me, I can't wait for them to shut up. Like, shut up. you're a moron. They have nothing to say, you know?
Adrienne is the only woman I will ever love.
I never thought that being obnoxious would get me where I am now.
I'm not as depressed as I used to be. The Prozac's working!
[on his female fans] They have got bad taste. I am not a good-looking guy.
(May 2004) In the recording studio creating a new album with Green Day, their first new album since 2002. (Shenanigans)
(August 2004) Head-lining the main stage at 'The Reading Festival' in the UK.
(September 2004) Green Day released "American Idiot" on the 21st of September, the first punk rock opera.
(June 2005) Currently touring around Europe. Will soon be touring back in the US, and then will be returning to Paris in November.
(September 2005) Touring in the U.S.
(July 2005) Headlining on Roskilde Festival, Denmark (as Green Day)
(January 2006) Recording New material for the follow-up album to American Idiot (2004)
(January 2006) Announced that there will be an "American Idiot" movie.
(April 2007) In New Orleans building houses with Habitat For Humanity.
(October 2008) His band, Green Day, is in the studio with Butch Vig, recording the follow-up to their 2004 classic "American Idiot".
(March 2010) The broadway production of their album 'American Idiot' (which includes five songs from '21st Century Breakdown' & two American Idiot b-sides) is currently running at the St. James Theatre
(January 2010) Won Best Rock Album for '21st Century Breakdown' at the 52nd Grammy Awards. They also performed with the cast of the broadway production of their album 'American Idiot' (a Grammy winner for Best Rock Album)
(September 2010) On September 28, 2010, Billie Joe began a week stint as "St. Jimmy" in Green Day's "American Idiot" on Broadway.
(October 2010) Week stint as "St. Jimmy" ended on October 3, 2010. Green Day went back on tour to promote "21st Century Breakdown".
(January 2011) Back in American Idiot as St Jimmy for 50 performances. Stint began on January 1, 2011
(February 2011) The 50 performance run as St Jimmy in American Idiot ended February 27, 2011.
(April 2011) Third stint in American Idiot as St. Jimmy for the show's final weeks from April 5th through April 24th. American Idiot closes April 24, 2011.
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