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Green Day was part of the California punk scene. Childhood friends Billie Joe Armstrong (guitar, vocals) and Mike Dirnt (bass; born Mike Pritchard) formed their first band, Sweet Children, in Rodeo, California when they were 14 years old. By 1989, the group had added drummer Al Sobrante and changed their name to Green Day. That year, the band independently released their first EP, "1,000 Hours," which was well-received in the punk scene.
group had signed a contract with the local independent label, Lookout! Records. "39/Smooth," Green Day's first album, was released later that year. Shortly after its release, the band replaced Kiftmeyer with Tre Cool (born Frank Edwin Wright, III); Tre Cool became the band's permanent drummer.
Throughout the early '90s, Green Day continued to cultivate a cult following, which only gained strength with the release of their
second album, 1992's "Kerplunk." The underground success of "Kerplunk" led to a wave of interest from major record labels; the band eventually decided to sign with Reprise. "Dookie," Green Day's major label debut, was released in the spring of 1994. Thanks to MTV support for the initial single "Longview," "Dookie" became a major hit.
The album continued to gain momentum throughout the summer, with the second single "Basket Case" spending five weeks on the top of the American modern rock charts. At the end of the summer, the band stole the show at Woodstock '94, which helped the sales of "Dookie" increase. By the time the fourth single "When I Come Around" began its seven-week stay at number one in the modern rock charts in early 1995, "Dookie" had sold more than five million copies in the US alone; it would eventually top eight million in America, selling more than eleven million copies internationally. "Dookie" also won the 1994 Grammy for Best Alternative Music Performance.
Green Day quickly followed "Dookie" with "Insomniac" in the fall of 1995; during the summer, they hit number one again on the modern rock charts with "J.A.R.," their contribution to the Angus soundtrack. "Insomniac" performed well initially, entering the US charts at number two, and selling more than two million copies by the spring of 1996, yet none of its singles – including the radio favorite "Brain Stew/Jaded" – were as popular as those from "Dookie." In the spring of 1996, Green Day abruptly cancelled a European tour, claiming exhaustion. Following the cancellation, the band spent the rest of the year resting and writing new material. The end result is, what is called by many, the best album of their career, "Nimrod."
"Nimrod" was well received by most critics and fans. The album sold 80,000 copies in its first week to land at #10 on the Billboard charts. The first single from "Nimrod" was "Hitchin' A Ride." The single made it to #5 on the modern rock charts and was in heavy rotation on MuchMusic and MTV. The next single the band released would not make it to number one (its highest position was #2), but it is now probably the most well known song Green Day ever wrote. Featuring Billie Joe on acoustic guitar and vocals, "Time Of Your Life" became the song to play in any remotely sad situation. The song was even used on the last ever episode
of the hit TV show "Seinfeld" (it was also the most watched finale in the history of TV).
Along with "Seinfeld," the song was also played on "E.R." on two different shows. "Nimrod" has sold about two million copies, the lowest sales total out of their three major label albums, but it probably garnered the band more respect than they could have expected with another "Dookie" or "Insomniac." The band also vastly improved their live show and even won "Best Live Performance" at the Kerrang awards.
After nearly two years with barely any mention of the band, Green Day returned in late 1999 to play
Neil Young's "Bridge School Benefit Concert," their first live acoustic performance. Green Day began
recording their follow-up to "Nimrod" shortly after, which would eventually become "Warning:." Early in the recording process, the band decided to fire their new producer, Scott Litt, and produce the album themselves, marking the first time since "Kerplunk" that anyone but Rob Cavallo produced the bands recording. After they finished recording, Green Day decided to do something else they hadn't done before – headline the 2000 Vans Warped Tour. Green Day played an amazing set and brought more fans to the tour than any other year in Warped's history (their Toronto performance alone attracted 7,000 more fans than they had any other year).
"Warning:" was released in the fall of 2000, and is by far Green Day's most ambitious album to date. Just four weeks after the release of "Minority," it sat atop Billboard's Modern Rock chart; no other Green Day song has hit the top that fast.
Hit songs include --
- 21 Guns
- American Idiot
- Basket Case
- Boulevard of Broken Dreams
- Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)
- J.A.R. (Jason Andrew Relva)
- Wake Me Up When September Ends
- Brain Stew
- Geek Stink Breath
- Hitchin' a Ride
- Working Class Hero
- Welcome to Paradise
- Walking Contradiction
- Jesus of Suburbia
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