Released in February of 1994, Green Day's Dookie came out just in time. Nirvana were still kings of MTV's Alternative Nation, and grunge had become a lucrative investment. But just a few months later, Kurt Cobain was found dead, and the slacker generation needed a distraction. Who better than a bunch of snot-nosed punks who could make boredom, masturbation, awkwardness, anxiety and exes sound so damn fun?
Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tre Cool came together in Berkeley, Calif., where they frequently played underground punk haven 924 Gilman St. Their first release, 39/Smooth, arrived in 1990, followed by the compilation 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours and 1992's Kerplunk. The latter's success prompted Reprise to sign the group. Hooking up with a major label may have come as a letdown to the trio's doting underground fan base. But those screaming "Sellout!" were quickly drowned out by Dookie's unprecedented success. At a time when grunge was ruling the roost, the album's playful pop punk provided a hookier, droller outlet for any kid who's ever felt a tinge of boredom, disillusionment or lack of motivation.
Influenced by U.K. punk pioneers The Clash, The Sex Pistols, The Undertones and Stiff Little Fingers (just watch High Fidelity for consensus here), fellow Bay Area cronies like Operation Ivy and The Mr. T Experience, and Minnesota indie rockers Husker Du and The Replacements (Armstrong has a certain fondness for the Midwestern state; he also met his wife there), the West Coast weed fiends would hit the big time with singles like "Basket Case," "Longview," "Welcome to Paradise" and "When I Come Around."
Green Day were never shy about their influences: They've covered many of them, including Operation Ivy, The Clash and The Replacements. But they also set the market for pop punk in the mid-'90s, influencing bands of their own, like blink-182, Fall Out Boy and New Found Glory. Now international rock stars and even Broadway celebrities, the trio is still riding that success well into the new millennium. Below, hear the roots of their superstar beginnings via some of Green Day's greatest inspirations.