At the age of 12, Tre Cool became a member of the band The Lookouts. Their album attracted some attention, and Tre began performing at an early age at the Berkeley, California punk club 924 Gilman Street. In 1987, Armstrong (15 years old) and Dirnt (16 years old) formed The Sweet Children, with Armstrong on lead vocals and guitar and Dirnt on bass and backing vocals. They began playing in 1988 at Rod's Hickory Pit in Rodeo, California. In 1989, the Children renamed themselves Green Day, after their first semi-successful song. They soon added Al Sobrante (born John Kiftmeyer), and went looking for a record deal.
The Lookouts were performing on punk label Lookout! Records, headed by Lookouts lead Lawrence Livermore. Green Day signed with Lookout in 1989, and released their first EP, 1,000 Hours and Slappy in 1990. The next year, they produced the album 39/Smooth and released it in 1991. (The EPs would eventually be rereleased on one CD as 1039 Smoothed Out Slappy Hours) Al Sobrante left the band at this point, and was replaced by Tre.
Green Day kicked off a national tour the day after Dirnt graduated from high school in 1990 before Slappy, then returned to the studio to produce their second album, Kerplunk, in 1992. The group signed with Reprise Records in April 1993, leaving Lookout on friendly terms. They released their first Reprise album, Dookie, in February 1994. Within a couple of months, extensive MTV airplay for the videos "Welcome to Paradise" and "Longview" had established the album, and the band, as successes.
The band joined the lineups of both the Lollapalooza Festival and Woodstock 1994. Green Day's Woodstock gig included a gigantic mud fight between the band and the audience, leading to a melee which led to Dirnt's losing his front teeth.
They recorded a single called "J.A.R." in 1995, and followed it up with the album Insomniac. Though the album didn't approach the success of Dookie, it still sold several million copies in the U.S. Their third major label album, Nimrod, was released in 1997, and Warning in 2000.
In 2003 (during time spent in the Studio) a New Wave band has appeared on the Scene, known as The Network. This 5 piece band, at first look/listen appears to be Green Day. The front man "Fink" bears a striking resemblance to one Wilhelm Fink (Billie Joe Armstrong's Pseudonym).
Fighting burnout after Warning, the band went into the studio to write and record new material for an album. After completing 20 tracks - an impressive album according to those few who heard it - the master tapes were stolen from the studio. The band chose not to try and re-create the stolen album but instead started over with a vow to be even more ambitious.
The resulting 2004 album American Idiot is being billed as a "punk rock opera", or more accurately a concept album telling the story of characters such as St Jimmy, Jesus of Suburbia, and Whatsername. Two of the tracks, "Jesus of Suburbia" and "Homecoming", are multi-movement suites that are both more than nine minutes long. The song American Idiot has been hailed by the band as their public statement in reaction to the confusing and warped scene that is American pop culture. The album as a whole is more political than their previous ones, if for no other reason than their aging. Billie Joe has said that they chose to write this way because the band has obtained respect and swag in the music world, and that this social commentary is part of the natural evolution of a band.