You Say It's Your Birthday: Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong

Today is the birthday of Green Day frontman and guitarist

Billie Joe Armstrong, who was born in 1972 in San Pablo, California. Green Day

was one of the first small-time punk bands in the 1990s to be signed to a major

label, bringing punk-style music to the pop charts amid accusations of selling

out.

Formed in 1989 in Berkeley, California, Green Day was born from the

longtime friendship between Armstrong and bassist Mike Dirnt, who formed their

first band, Sweet Children, when the boys were just 14. They hired on drummer

Tre Cool and recorded their first EP, 1,000 Hours at the age of 17. In

1990 they released their indie debut, 39/Smooth and followed with the

very excellent Kerplunk! in 1992, both of which were released by

Lookout! Records.

Green Day's songs are rarely more than three minutes

long, driven by bursts of guitar and Armstrong's staccato,

masturbation-and-marijuana-obsessed lyrics (as well as his faked English

accent). Their decision to sign with major-label Reprise in 1993 made them

immediately unwelcome in their old stomping grounds; nevertheless, the group

rocketed to immediate stardom with hits like "Longview" and "Basket Case."

Their 1996 follow-up, Insomniac, spawned further singles,

including "Brain Stew/Jaded" and "Walking Contradiction," and the band is

expected to deliver a new record sometime this fall. Meanwhile, Armstrong has

been working with a side band called Pinhead Gunpowder since 1990; their debut,

Goodbye Ellston Avenue, is due out February 25. Armstrong has also been

producing other artists including Exene and one-time Avengers' leader Penelope

Houston.

Other birthdays: The late Tommy Edwards, Bobby Lewis, Gene Pitney

and Melissa Brooke-Belland (Voice of the Beehive). -- Beth Winegarner