Welcome to Paradise: Five Facts About Green Day's 'Dookie'

Green Day's 'Dookie'
Photo Credit
Reprise Records

On Feb. 1, 1994, California punk trio Green Day released Dookie, their major-label debut (and third album overall). It reportedly sold 9,000 copies in its first week; by the end of the year, it sold nearly 4 million copies in America alone, and today has sold north of 20 million worldwide. To a generation of teenagers that just missed the grunge explosion, Dookie became a sacred text that combined youthful rebellion with razor-sharp production - what we now hail as "pop-punk."

Here are some fast facts to remember about Dookie's domination.

Going major pissed a lot of fans off. At 924 Gilman Street, the California DIY venue that helped punk bands like Operation Ivy and Rancid get their start, listeners were furious at what they viewed as Green Day's betrayal of their punk roots to join a major label. For frontman Billie Joe Armstrong, however, it was just a natural progression. "I couldn't go back to the punk scene, whether we were the biggest success in the world or the biggest failure," the singer later told Spin. "The only thing I could do was get on my bike and go forward."

But fans had already heard one of the songs. One of the album's standout tracks, "Welcome to Paradise," had already been featured on their album Kerplunk in 1991, and was re-recorded for Dookie.

Dookie went deep. Armstrong pulled many of the lyrical references on the album from his own life, including his own struggles with anxiety and even open admissions about his bisexuality. "The only way I could know what the hell was going on was to write a song about it," he later commented to VH1.

"Longview" was inspired by a drug trip. The album's first single, a painfully real account of suburban boredom, came to life thanks to bassist Mike Dirnt and some LSD. "I came home and Mike is sitting on the floor in the kitchen tripping balls, and he had his bass on, and he goes, 'I figured it out, man! I figured it out,'” Armstrong told Rolling Stone in 2020. "He played the bass line for me for the first time right there. I didn’t know what to think about it, because I was like, 'Well, he’s on acid, so I can’t tell if he’s even going to remember it.' Then we ended up playing it the next day, and it just stuck."

The Dookie Tour was nuts. For their biggest tour yet, drummer Tre Cool's father lent the band a bookmobile to travel around from show to show. Highlights include a chaotic set at Woodstock '94 (that ended in a mudfight and security accidentally knocking out one of Dirnt's teeth) and a set at Madison Square Garden where Armstrong performed one song totally naked. His reasoning: he was worried he'd never play there again. (They've since performed there three other times.)

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