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Green Day's 10 most punk moments

Joe Matera counts down the finest anarchistic incidents wherein Green Day truly proved themselves punk

Much has been made about Green Day's career trajectory, taking them as it has from garage-dwelling punks to multi-millionaire major label rockers, and all but destroying their punk rock kudos in the process. But cast your minds back to when the band were in their relative nascency – particularly their mid-90s incarnation – and you'll be treated with a catalogue of moments which would be enough to make the Sex Pistols flinch. Well, almost.

Below, the 10 most punk moments from Green Day's career.


10) Hotel hooliganism

Surprise log-from-above, plus traditional antics

In 1997, the Sunset Marquee hotel in LA provided the setting for one of Green Day’s most rock’n’roll moments. While they were staying there, Dirnt decided to defecate from the balcony, the turd landing on actress Juliette Binoche’s patio below. Later that evening, things got even more out of control when Armstrong walked down the hotel corridors naked, knocking on doors, before topping off the night by throwing their TV set out of a third-storey window.

9) Tower Records gets trashed

BJ in random retail rampage

Green Day’s 1997 appearance at a Tower Records store in New York saw Armstrong yell, “You can do anything you want, because you’re not at Tower Records, you’re at a Green Day concert!” before proceeding to spray-paint ‘Nimrod’ on the walls, shower beer and water over CD racks and bodysurf over the crowd. He then spray-painted the windows, and to finish off, mooned the crowds outside. Later, a store manager had to wrestle a 200-pound monitor away from the singer, who was attempting to throw it off a landing.

8) Look, ma – no pants!

Billie Joe makes an arse of himself onstage

During Green Day’s performance at Milwaukee’s Mecca Auditorium in 1996, Armstrong dropped his pants to his knees and exposed his buttocks to the 6,000-strong crowd in attendance. In order to avoid a potential riot, the police waited until the last song was played before apprehending the cheeky young naturist as he was making his way to his limo. Armstrong was then taken to the Milwaukee police station and cited for indecent exposure. After posting bail of $141, he was released. A Milwaukee PD spokesman later commented on Armstrong’s arrest: “The problem was that he exposed himself to a crowd of about 6,000 people, including people as young as 10. That was our main reason for taking the action.”

7) Billie Joe arrested for DUI

It’s that man again – this time behind the wheel

An early Green Day song entitled DUI (which later surfaced on the Japanese version of Shenanigans) proved to be a little too prophetic for Armstrong. On the evening of Sunday January 5, 2003, while driving his black BMW along Telegraph Avenue near his home in Berkeley, California, Armstrong was pulled over, and after failing a sobriety test, was arrested for driving under the influence. He was taken into custody, but later released on $1,200 bail.

6) Green Day Vs Third Eye Blind

Backstage skull-smashing

In 1998, during Green Day’s set at the KROQ Weenie Roast, Third Eye Blind bassist Arion Salazar ran onto the stage and bear-hugged Mike Dirnt. Surprised by Salazar’s action, Dirnt kicked and hit Salazar, leading to a scuffle. Backstage later, Dirnt was hit on the head by a beer bottle thrown by an unidentified person from Third Eye Blind’s camp, which caused him to suffer fractures to the skull. Salazar later apologised and admitted to being pissed as a parrot. No charges were ever pressed over the matter.

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5) Green Day booted off Australian TV

Unruly punk threesome in pre-watershed swearing shocker down under. Strewth!

The band were escorted off Australian TV in 1998 when, after appearing on youth music show Recovery, they offered up an impromptu rendition of The Grouch. Not scheduled to perform, the boys hijacked instruments from the show’s house band for their performance. Whipping the studio audience into a frenzy with lyrics a tad too strong for prime time – such as 'The world owes me, so fuck you' – they were escorted by security off the set and out of the building.

4) Tonight we celebrate our love

GD lament Aniston’s absence in an unconventional manner

In 1996, after Green Day had performed Brain Stew on Jay Leno’s Tonight show, the band returned to the green room and proceeded to rearrange it rock’n’roll-style. When the show had finished and Green Day had left, producers walked in to find the room an absolute mess, with peanut butter smeared all over the cushions of the couch. They also found an Elmo doll hanging from a noose. Admitting to the incident, the band explained that it was sparked by their anger upon hearing that Jennifer Aniston’s appearance on the show had been cancelled at the last minute.

3) Billie Joe lets go of his inhibitions

Fearless frontman stuns New York with a burst of birthday-suit bravado

At the tail end of their year-long Dookie tour, Green Day gave a spellbinding performance at New York’s prestigious Madison Square Garden arena in December 1994. After the set, the crowd broke out in rapturous applause. The band naturally decided to return for an encore – but not just any encore. The fans were in for a big surprise when Billie Joe – never one to do anything by the book – hit the stage completely starkers, except for his guitar, to perform a cover of the Kiss classic She.

2) We’re gonna start a riot

Radio freebie attracts too many fans; carnage ensues

In the wake of the Woodstock incident the month before, Green Day performed a free show for local Boston radio station WFNX. A modest crowd of 10,000 was predicted by organisers, but on the day 100,000 turned up – causing a logistical nightmare for all. With police and state troopers called into action and crowd control unable to contain the hordes, the crash barriers came down and all hell broke loose. With panic setting in, the gig was called off after only a few songs. The crowd went mad, causing more havoc that quickly spread through the streets of the city. The band were hastily ushered under the building, and watched the whole fiasco unfold in safety.

1) Peace, love and mud fights

Woodstock becomes Mudstock after GD incite crowd

When Green Day hit the stage on the third day of Woodstock ’94, the 350,000-strong crowd were primed and ready to rock – but Armstrong had other plans. After someone lobbed mud at him, he encouraged the crowd to throw more, and the set soon degenerated into a filthy affair, with band, fans and crew engaged in a monumental muck scrap.


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