Since their claim to fame with the classic release Dookie, Green Day has been Juggernauts the the punk rock music scene. Formed in 1987, then under the name Sweet Children, by friends Billie Joe Armstrong and Mike Dirnt, 15 years old at the time, along with Sean Hughes and former Isocracy drummer John ‘Al Sobrante’ Kiffmeyer. The band made their first EP, 1,000 Hours, after signing to Lookout! Records. To avoid confusion with a band named Sweet Baby, the band changed their name to Green day, inspired by their fondness of marijuana.
After the departure of Hughes and Kiffmeyer, the band recruited The Lookouts drummer Tré Cool, first as a replacement, then eventually as a permanent band member. With this new, power trio line-up, Green Day released the second studio album Kerplunk, which sold 50,000 copies in the United States. Kerplunk’s success in the underground punk music scene was key in garnering interest from major record labels. The band eventually left Lookout! Records to sign with Reprise Records after catching the eye of rock heavy-weight Rob Cavallo.
Under Reprise, the trio released their breakthrough album Dookie in February of 1994. Recorded in just three weeks, Dookie became a huge commercial success, largely in part to the exposure garnered by the videos for “Longview”, “Basketcase” and “When I Come Around”, which had heavy airplay on MTV. Behind the might of five hit singles, including a remake of Kerplunk’s “Welcome to Paradise” and the radio only single “She”, Dookie became one of the most successful albums in rock. As of 2010, Dookie has sold more than 16 million copies worldwide, earning a Diamond rating in the United States. The album won the Grammy for Best Alternative Rock Album and was ranked at number 193 for The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
During the intervening years, Green Day continued to release successful albums, including Insomniac (1994), Nimrod (1997) and Warning (2000). To many fans of the band their 2004 release American Idiot to be the most important release since Dookie. A concept and anti-war album which follows the tale of the titular character from one of its hit singles, “Jesus of Suburbia”, the album gave fans some politically charged motivation to be more active in local and national politics thanks to the hit lead single and title track “American Idiot”. American Idiot has peaked at #1 in many international billboards, including achieving 5x platinum in the U.S. The album also was nominated for and won several awards, including a Grammy for Best Rock Album in 2005.
To date, Green Day has won many awards and nominations, including winning five Grammys and three American Music Awards (AMA). They have gone platinum many times over and are still going strong in the punk rock scene. Many ‘die-hard’ punk rock fans dislike Green Day because of the mainstream success and their ‘watered down’ punk sound. Their sound and style may not appeal to all punk enthusiast, but their success is undeniable. They continue to make great music, 2009’s 21st Century Breakdown took home the Grammy for Best Rock Album, and enjoy their craft today as much as they did in their early beginnings. And with the January release of ¡Tré!, the third album of the trilogy entitled ¡Uno!,¡Dos!, ¡Tré!, the induction of longtime touring guitarist Jason White into the band, there seems to be no stopping Green Day anytime soon!
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