Happy Birthday Billie Joe: An American Idiot Turns 40

Today, Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day turns 40. Eighteen years ago, in the time known as 1994, he turned 22. Two weeks earlier than that, his band's major-label debut, Dookie, had hit store shelves. That album would go on to sell 16 million copies worldwide, although he didn't know that yet.

In about nine months, I'm going to turn 30. 18 years ago, I was 11. Nine months into that future I was going to turn 12 and my favorite band would be Green Day. I would play that CD so often that it would start skipping, but I didn't know that yet.

Billie Joe got older and I got older. A band that named their major-label debut after diarrhea eventually had their songs turned in to a Broadway musical. I went from writing down thoughts in my notebook to writing blogs on the Internet. We grow up, we (mostly) mature.


If you have even a passing interest in mainstream music, you know the Green Day story by now. Dookie, "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)," American Idiot (the album), American Idiot (the musical), American Idiot (the animated series).

(There's not really an animated series. Yet.)

Rather than go over the same facts and minutia that come up every time someone writes about Green Day, I'd like to focus on a different part of their success. When a band reaches a certain level of popularity they transcend simple things like genres of music. They become a part of popular culture.

Don't believe me? Check out this list of moments where three punks became something more.

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Cory Garcia is a Contributing Editor for the Houston Press. He once won an award for his writing, but he doesn't like to brag about it. If you're reading this sentence, odds are good it's because he wrote a concert review you don't like or he wanted to talk pro wrestling.
Contact: Cory Garcia