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Billie Joe Armstrong (born February 17, 1972) is the lead vocalist, chief songwriter and guitarist for the rock band Green Day. He is also a guitarist and vocalist for the rock band Pinhead Gunpowder and sings for garage rock band Foxboro Hot Tubs. He's also suspected of being the lead singer for new wave group The Network, though he has emphatically denied it on numerous occasions.

Early life

Billie Joe Armstrong was born in Oakland, Californiamarker and was raised in Rodeo, Californiamarker, as the youngest of six children. His father, Andy Armstrong, worked as a drummer and truck driver for Safeway to support the family. He died of cancer on September 10, 1982 when Armstrong was 10. 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 Ollie worked at Rod's Hickory Pit. Armstrong and Mike Dirnt got their first gig at Rod's Hickory Pit during their early years.

Armstrong's interest in music started at a young age. He attended Rodeo's Hillcrest Elementary School, 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 despised, which made Armstrong retreat further into music. Armstrong dedicated a song to him called "Why Do You Want Him". At age 12 while attending Carquinez Middle School in Crockett, CA, he met Mike Dirnt, and they immediately bonded over their love of music. As a teenager he originally was into metal music, but got into punk after hearing the Sex Pistols song "Holidays in the Sun". Armstrong has also cited The Replacements and Hüsker Dü, both from Minneapolismarker, as major influences. He attended John Swett High School, also in Crockett, and then Pinole Valley High Schoolmarker, in Pinole, CA, dropping out on February 16, 1989, a day before his 17th birthday, to pursue his musical career.


In 1987, Armstrong formed a band called Sweet Children with childhood friend Mike Dirnt at the age of 15. In the beginning, Dirnt and Armstrong were both on guitar, with John Kiffmeyer, also known as Al Sobrante, on drums Metropolis - Music and Concerts: Green Day, and Sean Hughes on bass. After a few gigs and a demo recording (later featured at the end of Green Day's Kerplunk!) Hughes left the band in 1988. At the same time Dirnt switched to bass and they became a 3-piece band. They changed their name to Green Day in April 1989, allegedly choosing the name for their fondness of marijuana. That same year they recorded the EPs 39/Smooth, 1,000 Hours, and Slappy, later combined into the LP 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours, on Lookout! Records. Tré Cool eventually replaced Sobrante in late 1990 when he left Green Day in order to go to college. California Punk band Rancid's lead singer Tim Armstrong asked Billie Joe to join Rancid, but he refused due to the progress with Green Day. Tré Cool 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.

Apart from working with Green Day and side-band Pinhead Gunpowder, Armstrong has proved himself busy in the music world, collaborating 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, and has also been confirmed to be part of a side project called The Network. The Network released an album called Money Money 2020. Many Green Day fans who listened to the record remarked the similarity between the two bands. Money Money 2020 was released on Adeline Records, a record label co-owned by Armstrong. He also worked with the band U2 with The Saints Are Coming. Green Day was featured in the Red Hot Chili Peppers video for Dani California.

Armstrong's first guitar was a Cherry Red Hohner acoustic, which his father bought for him. He then received his first electric guitar, a Fernandes Stratocaster copy that he named "Blue", when he was ten. His mother got "Blue" from George Cole who taught Armstrong electric guitar for ten years. Armstrong says in a 1995 MTV interview, "Basically, it wasn't like guitar lessons because I never really learned how to read music. So he just taught me how to put my hands on the thing". George Cole bought the guitar new from David Margen of the band Santana. Cole gave Armstrong a Bill Lawrence Humbucking pickup and told him to install the pickup in the bridge position. After the pickup was destroyed at Woodstock '94, Armstrong then switched to the Duncan JB model. "Armstrong fetishized his teacher's guitar, partly because the blue instrument had a sound quality and Van Halen - worthy fluidity he couldn't get from his little red Hohner. He prized it mostly, however, because of his relationship with Cole, another father figure after the death of Andy." He toured with this guitar from the band's early days sill uses it to this day. "Blue" also appears in several of their music videos starting with "Longview", "Basket Case", "Brain Stew/Jaded", and appearing most recently in "Minority".


Today Armstrong mainly uses Gibson and Fender guitars. Twenty of his Gibson guitars are Les Paul Junior models from the mid- to late-1950s. His Fender collection includes: Stratocaster, Jazzmaster, Telecaster, a Gretsch hollowbody and his copies of "Blue". He states that his favorite guitar is a 1956 Gibson Les Paul Junior he calls "Floyd". He bought this guitar in 2000 just before recording their album Warning.

Armstrong also has his own line of Les Paul Junior guitars from Gibson. He also often uses his signature line in more of his recent tours. Armstrong also uses Gretsch guitars.

Personal life

Armstrong after his arrest in January 2003
In 1990, Armstrong met Adrienne Nesser, at one of Green Day's early shows in Mankato, Minnesotamarker, whom he married on July 2, 1994. The day after their wedding, Adrienne discovered she was pregnant. Their first child, Joseph 'Joey' Marciano Armstrong, was born on February 28, 1995 and was named after Joey Ramone. Their second child, Jakob Danger Armstrong, was born on September 12, 1998. Adrienne is the co-owner of Adeline Records, along with Armstrong.

Img = Green Day 20m.jpg

Armstrong has identified himself as bisexual saying in a 1995 interview with The Advocate, "I think I've always been bisexual. I mean, it's something that I've always been interested in. I think people are born bisexual, and it's just that our parents and society kind of veer us off into this feeling of 'Oh, I can't.' They say it's taboo. It's ingrained in our heads that it's bad, when it's not bad at all. It's a very beautiful thing."

filename = Longview.ogg
title = "Longview"
description = Sample of "Longview", the first single from Dookie, which combined a memorable bass line with a guitar riff and drums introduced in the chorus.
filename2 = Basket Case1.ogg
title2 = "Basket Case"
description2 = Sample of "Basket Case", the third single from Dookie, which was about Armstrong's panic attacks.}}
title = "Longview"
description = Sample of "Longview", the first single from Dookie, which combined a memorable bass line with a guitar riff and drums introduced in the chorus.
filename2 = Basket Case1.ogg
title2 = "Basket Case"
description2 = Sample of "Basket Case", the third single from Dookie, which was about Armstrong's panic attacks.}}

Armstrong was arrested by Berkeley police in January 2003 for drinking and driving after being pulled over for speeding. He received a breathalyzer reading of 0.17%, more than twice the nation-wide legal limit of 0.08%.

In April 2007, Armstrong and his wife Adrienne sent photos of their spring break working with Habitat For Humanity and a diary to Armstrong supported Barack Obama for the 2008 presidential election.



Green Day

Pinhead Gunpowder

Vocals and Guitar on all

The Network

Foxboro Hot Tubs


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