Billie Joe Armstrong Biography

author: andyst220 date: 09/16/2008 category: artists' discussions
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Billie Joe Armstrong was born in Oakland, California on February 17th 1972. He was the youngest of six children in a family of wide musical talent. His mother worked as a waitress in local diner, Rod's Hickory Pitt, and his father worked as a truck driver/jazz musician. Billie Joe always shone above his siblings with his clear musical ability. From a young age, he was cheering people up at local hospitals with his beautiful singing. He attended singing lessons and was always destined for greatness. The first clear sign of this was when at the age of only five; he recorded his very first song at a local recording studio in Berkeley. The song was called "Look For Love" and found him an interview with a local radio station, a clip of which can be found as the introduction of one of Green Day's songs - Maria. Billie Joe formed a very strong relationship with his father, who, at the age of ten, gave him his very first electric guitar - blue - which he still uses to this day, imaginatively named thus because of its pale blue colour. Billie Joe treasured this guitar, a Fender Stratocaster; although little did he know, it was the beginning of a lifetime career in music. Unfortunately only a year later, Billie Joe lost his father to throat cancer, leaving him lonely and broken hearted. His mother soon found herself a new husband whom none of the six children liked and caused Billie Joe to write his first song "Why Do You Want Him" which appears on Green Day's debut album, 1039 "Smoothed Out Slappy Hours". He released a lot of his anger out on his guitar playing the hardcore punk rock songs he still sings today; unfortunately, he also released a lot of his anger with physical violence, both at school and at home, with his stepfather. At the same time, Mike Dirnt (Bassist of Green Day, born Mike Pritchard) was also having trouble at home and when the two met in the school canteen at the age of twelve, they immediately hit it off. Mike moved out of his own home due to disagreements with his adoptive parents and moved into a separated apartment in Billie Joe's house. This allowed the two to bond further, Billie Joe persuaded Mike to buy an electric guitar as well so that the two could practise together in the garage of his home. They were often laughed at at school for their dress sense and taste in music, but the two stayed true to their music and punk life-style and did not lose hope at any stage of their journey to get their message out there. The two young musicians where born to be rebellious and at no point did they even consider changing this. Billie Joe was known at school as "Two Dollar Bill" as he used to sell joints for two dollars. This is also where the name Green Day comes from. The band was originally named "Sweet Children", but they soon realised this was not a strong enough name for their band and swiftly changed it to Green Day, which is slang for a day of sitting around smoking pot. Soon after the two formed the band, they realised that two guitarists wasn't going to work. Mike switched to bass and they recruited a drummer. They found John Kiffmeyer or "Al" who was a fair bit older than Billie Joe and Mike, but the three formed their very own unique band and started to play for bigger audiences. They tried to play as many clubs and venues as possible, however big or small, they even frequently played at Rod's Hickory Pitt where the two also worked alongside Billie's mum to earn their keep. After a while, they attempted to get a record deal with local studio-Lookout Records. Eventually, they got their debut record in 1986 - 1039 Smoothed Out Slappy Hours. However, after a few years, Al left the band to return to college leaving the two without a drummer. Another local band "The Lookouts", founders of "Lookout Records" who knew Billie and Mike very well, insisted that they had their drummer, as they had recently split up. The new drummer, Tre Cool, (born Frank Edwin Wright III) fit into the band very comfortably, being closer to the age of the other two, they formed a very strong relationship, which is still strong today (2005). In 1991, Billie Joe met Adrienne Nesser, a fellow punk rock enthusiast and the two fell in love and married in 1994 in a 5 minute service, only to find the very next day that Adrienne was pregnant with their first child, Joseph Marciano, who was born in 1995, followed 3 years later by another son - Jakob Danger. This comes from Billie Joe's favourite television character - "Austin Powers", which, like Austin, allows his son to say and mean that Danger is his middle name. After the addition of Tre Cool to the band, Green Day went on to produce many more records, especially impressive being "American Idiot", the latest album (other than Bullet in a Bible-highly recommended) selling hundreds of millions of copies worldwide placing them as one of the best bands in the world at the moment. After 17 years (2005) of entertaining the world with their rebellious and often hilarious songs, the band are still going strong and still writing more and more songs to entertain and amuse us after already more than 10 albums worth of hardcore punk rock.

Random Facts

Spouse: Adrienne Armstrong (2 July 1994 - present) 2 children. Trade Mark:: Black shirt and a red necktie. Trivia: 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. Father died of cancer when he was 11 years old. 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, California and also has a home near his wife's family in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Shares a birthday with Paris Hilton. 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. Close friends with Matthew Fox, Adam Levine and Gerard Way. 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. Close friends with Jason Mewes. 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.

Personal Quotes

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.

Where Are They Now

(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.
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