Sometimes it takes a major crisis to trigger the wheels of change in a person’s life. Thus, for Greed Day and Billie Joe Armstrong the crisis manifested itself at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas. Reportedly, sources close to Green Day suggests, Armstrong’s trip to rehab has been long overdue. The singer’s publicist confirmed on Sunday that Armstrong is getting the help he needs after the Green Day frontman had a total meltdown on stage two days earlier at the Las Vegas festival.
It all started when Armstrong learned producers had sliced 20 minutes out of the Green Day set — reportedly to make room for other acts, including Usher.
The 40-year-old frontman went bananas with an expletive-laced rant that included a steady stream of the f-word. He was in mid-song, when he noticed a “one-minute” warning being flashed at him from a TelePrompter monitor.
“You’re going to give me one minute? One f—ing minute? I’ve been around since f—ing 19 f—ing 80 f—ing 8, and you’re going to give me one f—ing minute?
“I’m not f—ing Justin Bieber, you motherf—ers.”
(Actually, Green Day’s history is even a bit longer than an obviously outraged Armstrong indicated. The band formed in 1987 but changed its name to Green Day in 1989.)
Armstrong then stormed off stage smashing his guitar as he exited.
The band later issued a statement apologizing for the incident.
I understand that Armstrong’s Green Day team — including bandmates Mike Dirnt and Tre Cool— were all part of an intervention to get Armstrong to agree to go to rehab to deal with his abuse of various substances, including both prescription drugs and alcohol.
“Billie Joe has been a loose cannon for a long time,” said a Green Day insider. “It’s long past time when he should be getting some serious help.”
About three weeks ago, Armstrong was rushed to a hospital, forcing the cancellation of a concert in Italy. At the time, the singer insisted he had lost his voice. It now appears that may have been caused by a tough night of hard-partying.
Armstrong’s rant comes at a time when Green Day has been in the midst of a rather mainstream promotional campaign for its album “¡Uno!,” which has seen the band gradually distancing itself from its more recent political and topical material. Already, the band has partnered with Nokia Music and has released a branded version of “Angry Birds Friends.”
Green Day also hasn’t exactly been hard to book, having appeared on MTV’s “Video Music Awards” and “America’s Got Talent,” among many other promotional performances. Unknown as of yet is whether or not this will affect Armstrong’s scheduled role as a mentor on NBC’s talent competition “The Voice.”
Until Sunday’s statement, Armstrong’s tirade had been viewed as little more than a bit of ol’-fashioned punk rock theater. For those looking for some signs of life amid Green Day’s corporate partnerships and lighter sound, it may have even been welcome. New album “¡Uno!” arrives Sept. 25, and it’s a happy-go-lucky mid-tempo pop affair, displaying none of the ferocity Armstrong possessed Friday night.
Publicly, even Clear Channel and its iHeartRadio Festival at first endorsed Amrstrong’s antics. “WOW!!!! …and the guitar is officially broken,” the festival posted on its official Twitter page during the concert, ultimately describing Green Day’s appearance as “monumental.” Meanwhile, the I Heart Radio site declared the performance “one of the most epic, punk rock sets in recent memory.”
Yet tempering the excitement is an uncomfortable video recorded backstage with radio personality Lisa Kennedy Montgomery. Said to be filmed after the concert, it sees Montgomery asking a rather flirtatious Armstrong how he maintains his voice. Armstrong’s answer, before getting cozy with the interviewer: “Alcohol.”
Armstrong was rushed to a hospital in Italy in early September for an undisclosed illness, forcing the band to cancel a show in Bologna. The band next returns to Las Vegas on Feb. 8, 2013, a performance scheduled for the MGM Garden Arena.
It was unclear what type of substance abuse drove drove Armstrong to seek treatment.
In 2003, he was arrested for drunken driving in Berkeley, Calif.