Green Day

Biography Project for Mrs. Hemry's 8th Grade Language Arts Class
~by Lacey B.

How It All Began

This trio didn't just randomly appear in the early 90's as a punk sensation dancing at the top of that charts, it took time and a lot of effort to make their dreams a reality. There were major hardships within their earlier portion of their careers having to do with family or just themselves in general. All of these events that occurred earlier in their career added up to a very successful lifestyle that payed off.

Billie Joe Armstrong

Billie Joe was a very jolly kid, if you will. He enjoyed music and really started to enjoy singing at an early age, he even recorded his first track, "Look for Love", when he was merely 5 years old. With his mom being able to play the piano and his dad happened to be a drummer in a jazz band, you can clearly see why Billie was interested in music at such an early age. He would even sing to patients at the local hospital to make them feel better. It was all a nice start to his life until his father, Andy, passed away due to cancer when Billie was just 10 years old, effecting him a great amount. Aside from the tragedy, he also met the future bass player, Mike Dirnt, in elementary school. Since they both had an interest in music, they'd both played some Ozzy Osbourne, Def Leppard and even Van Halen. By the time Billie was 14, he had written a song called "Why Do You Want Him?" about his mom and his new step dad. When he was around 15, he started a group with himself, Mike and John Kiffmeyer called "Sweet Children".  

Tré Cool

Tré also had a fairly smooth beginning with his parents. He was born in Germany and soon moved to California with his Father and 2 older siblings. His father was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, so he had them live there while he was away. Fortunately, Cool's neighbor happened to be the Lookout! Records owner, Lawrence Livermore, who also happened to own the band "The Lookouts". When Cool was 12, Livermore recruited him to take the drummer position in the band, and that's when {Frank Edwin Wright III} he got his nick  name, Tré Cool; Tré meaning "very" in french so that made him "very cool." When the original drummer of Green Day left, Billie and Mike recruited Tré to play as their drummer. Tré decided to drop out of high school in sophomore year, however, he still got his GED. Since the demands of touring from Green Day intensified, he thought it'd be smart to reserve time for the band.

Mike Dirnt

Mike's childhood was a bit complicated with all of the moving that he was forced into doing. Unfortunately for Mike, his mother was a drug addict which, as a result, means that he was eventually given up for adoption. A Native American woman and her husband took care of him for a bit, that is, until the two divorced. Then Mike had to live with his father that he was left with. Soon after he had built that relationship with his dad, he was sent back to his original mother. Mike's mother went out one night, and brought an unknown man home, who soon became his step dad. Although Mike didn't like him at first, they were kinda forced to become "friends" but, they eventually enjoyed each others company and became close over time. Since Mike went to the same elementary school with Billie, they became friends since they had a similar taste in music. Again, they liked to mess around with music and they eventually formed the group called "Sweet Children" in 1986.

The Music

Billie, Mike and Tré all eventually got together and started writing some material for their group now named "Green Day". After their first show on 924 Gilman Street, they really began to produce more ideas and compositions of music and began to book more shows. In 1992, they released their first album "Kerplunk" with Lookout! Records. As soon as that album released, they collected a pretty steady fan base and a lot more attention and sold over 1 million copies worldwide. Aside from the breakthrough, their next album was what really hit it off; "Dookie". This album, over time, became a diamond album, selling over 16 million albums worldwide ever since 1993. Their next album, "Insomniac", released in 1995 which ended up selling 8 million copies over time. In 1997, they released "Nimrod" which took them to the #10 position on the billboard charts and sold 6 million copies. Their next album, "Warning" was released in 2000 and aside from the issues about the album's content, the album still debuted at #4 on the charts, selling 3 million copies. "American Idiot" was released in 2004, selling 15 million copies, making it the second most successful album they have released. In 2009, they released "21st Century Breakdown.", selling just about 3.5 copies since the release date. The album reached #1 in 15 countries and #1 on the U.S billboards. Their next release was a trilogy, "¡UNO!", "¡DOS!" and "¡TRÉ!" in 2012, not getting too much attention due to the break that they had taken. They also released "X-Kid" in 2013, making it onto the billboards in a few places, not specified.

"21 Guns" is apart of "21st Century Breakdown" and took the place of one of the most popular songs they have ever released.

"Wake Me Up When September Ends" was apart of the album "American Idiot". This piece has very heartfelt lyrics since this was written about Billie's father who passed away in September.


Out of all the years they have been making music, they definitely deserve to be commended for their accomplishments: (Major Awards.)

3 AMA's, 6 Billboards, 2 BRITs, 5 Grammy Awards, 11 MTV VMA Awards, and 17 Bammy Awards.

In 2009, "21st Century Breakdown" earned an AMA for 'Favorite Alternative Album'. "American Idiot: The Musical" got a Grammy for 'Best Musical Show'. Also, in 2006, Boulevard Of Broken Dreams" won a Grammy for 'Record of The Year'.

Although the smaller awards were not mentioned, they have won 94 awards so far, still producing music to this day. Besides that, they have been nominated for 215 awards. They have sold over 47.8 million albums in the U.S and that number will continue to increase each day. Not to mention, they are going to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.

Interesting Facts

There are a lot of reasons why they have gotten so much achieved in the past few decades. Not just the unique riffs or the awesome put together of their songs, but the unique things about them are pretty interesting as well.

~Before Green Day was actually Green Day, Mike and Billie named their group 'Sweet Children' but changed it for obvious reasons. They were just 14 when they formed the actual band, which is pretty early to start a career like that.(Must have been the late 80's faze.)

~ Billie can also play the harmonica, mandolin, drums, and piano. Mike can play the farfisa, guitar, and drums aside from the bass. Tré can also play the guitar and accordion.

~Billie and Mike's first show was played in Rod Hickory Pit in Vallejo California in 1987.

Why Are They Important?

Many ask "Why are they even important?" or "Why are they famous?" Well at this point in their careers, it's almost in plain sight. They have, believe it or not, shaped our music culture, rather it be pop, rock or alternative, they have inspired so many people to go out there and try to achieve the "Big Time". How'd they even make it to the "Big Time"? Dedication and a lot of hard work. They all had to contribute to the effort of getting noticed, rather it be booking random shows or just playing in random pubs. Since this all took place in the late 80's and mid 90's, there wasn't such thing as Youtube. There wasn't all of these social media sites to promote their name. They actually had to do it themselves which, the point all on it's own, covers one point on why they are so well-known. They have influenced so many modern punk/alternative bands, and you might not even realize it.

As for their music, most of their diverse lyrics and awesome creativity usually have a message, although, not always a positive one. Back in 1992, they didn't seem to be very serious about the actual lyrics and their sound. As time continued on, they became a bit more practical, though, that's what made them unique. I mean, come on, they had their own musical based on their album (which is pretty amazing by the way, you should watch it. :D ).

If I had to conclude or state what I learned form them personally, it would be to stay true to yourself, stay confident with your look and sound, and stay dedicated. Billie, Tré and Mike stuck around even with the hardships that occurred and managed to make their ideal lifestyle a reality. Yes, they may have done some unintelligent things in the past, but that's what learning is for, right? I feel like they have achieved what they really wanted and that's what's motivating about them and that's exactly what inspires me and to this day, they still inspire so many people to stay independent and not let others bring them down.

"There's nothing wrong with being a loser, it just depends on how good you are at it." ~Billie Joe Armstrong

"Listen to the silence. Listen to your life. Be present, not just think about what's going on next week, next month..." ~Mike Dirnt

"School is practice for the future, and practice makes perfect and nobody's perfect so why bother." ~ Tré Cool

The End :)

Source ~ Ben Myers "Green Day: American Idiots and The New Punk Explosion"

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