Saturday, February 17, 2018

Happy Birthday to Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong

Billie Joe Armstrong was born today, February 17, in 1972. He is a musician, singer, songwriter and actor who is best known as the lead vocalist, primary songwriter, and guitarist of the rock band Green Day, which he co-founded with Mike Dirnt. He is also a guitarist and vocalist for the punk rock band Pinhead Gunpowder and provides lead vocals for Green Day's side projects Foxboro Hot Tubs and The Network.

Raised in Rodeo, California, Armstrong developed an interest in music at a young age, and recorded his first song at the age of 5. He met Mike Dirnt while attending elementary school, and the two instantly bonded over their mutual interest in music, forming the band Sweet Children when the two were 15 years old. The band changed its name to Green Day, and would later achieve massive commercial success. Armstrong has also pursued musical projects outside of Green Day's work, including numerous collaborations with other musicians.

The youngest of six children of Andrew "Andy" Marsicano Armstrong and Ollie Jackson, Armstong's father worked as a jazz musician and truck driver to support his family. He died of esophageal cancer in September 1982, when Armstrong was 10. The song "Wake Me Up When September Ends" is a memorial to his father. 

In 2004, Green Day debuted American Idiot, their first rock opera. The album has sold more than 15,000,000 copies worldwide, fueled by the hit singles "American Idiot", "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" and "Wake Me Up When September Ends." In 2009 Green Day released 21st Century Breakdown, the band's second rock opera, which was another commercial success.

In 2009, American Idiot was turned into a musical on Broadway. The musical won two Tony Awards. Armstrong appeared in American Idiot in the role of St. Jimmy twice, in late 2010 and early 2011.

Armstrong has identified himself as bisexual, saying in a 1995 interview with The Advocate, "I think I've always been bisexual. I mean, it's something that I've always been interested in. I think people are born bisexual, and it's just that our parents and society kind of veer us off into this feeling of 'Oh, I can't.' They say it's taboo. It's ingrained in our heads that it's bad, when it's not bad at all. It's a very beautiful thing." 

In a later interview for Out magazine's April 2010 issue, Armstrong stated: "There were a lot of people who didn't accept it, who were homophobic." Armstrong continued, saying, "The fact that it's an issue is kind of phobic within itself. At some point, you gotta think, this should be something that's just accepted." Armstrong added: "I don't really classify myself as anything. And when it comes to sex, there are parts of me that are very shy and conservative." 

In February 2014, Armstrong again discussed his bisexuality in a Rolling Stone article about Dookie, a record which Armstrong described as "touch[ing] on bisexuality a lot." Armstrong discussed the song "Coming Clean" stating, "It was a song about questioning myself. There are these other feelings you may have about the same sex, the opposite sex, especially being in Berkeley and San Francisco then. People are acting out what they're feeling: gay, bisexual, transgender, whatever. And that opens up something in society that becomes more acceptable. Now we have gay marriage becoming recognized... I think it's a process of discovery. I was willing to try anything." 

In 1990, Armstrong met Adrienne Nesser (Steve Nesser's sister) at one of Green Day's early performances in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They married on July 2, 1994, and have two sons.

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