Green Day Leader's Big Surprise

Things that looked like cigars? Photo by Jay Blakesberg.

Green Day singer/songwriter/guitarist Billy Joe Armstrong

thought he and a buddy were just dropping in at San Francisco's Bottom of the

Hill last Saturday (February 17) for a quiet drink or two. But when the duo

entered the club and looked around, Armstrong realized something was amiss.

Maybe it was those familiar faces--all 200 of them. "At first Billy was

completely in a state of shock," said a source who attended the surprise party

held to celebrate the punk rocker's 25th birthday. "Imagine walking into a club

with a friend to get a drink and all of a sudden you realize you know everyone

there and they all start singing 'Happy Birthday.' It was a shock." No sweat.

Armstrong adjusted to the situation quickly enough. "Once he got over the

surprise of it, he was completely relaxed," said our source.

Three bands

performed: Pansy Division (with Riverdales' drummer Dan Sullivan sitting in at

one point), the retro-cool Hi-Fives and the Criminals. The party, held two days

before Armstrong's Feb. 19 birthday, was the work of Armstrong's wife Adrienne,

who had been planning it for months.

Old and new friends and associates

including Armstrong's two Green Day bandmates (Tre Cool and Mike Dirnt), Green

Day producer Rob Cavallo and solo artist Penelope Houston (once leader of the

Avengers), who Armstrong just finished producing. "There were lots of things

that looked like cigars but didn't smell like cigars," noted our source. "A

wall of hors d'oeuvres. And an old friend of Billy's jumped out of a giant cake

and hugged him."

The night before, Green Day had performed at an East Bay

warehouse party, and Armstrong had just finished mixing the three songs he

produced (and played guitar on) for Houston. Green Day expect to enter the

studio in late March with Cavallo (he produced both Dookie and

Insomniac).