Green Day’s set at the iHeartRadio Music Festival became infamous after Billie Joe Armstrong went on a furious tirade after his band’s set got cut short to allow Usher additional stage time — which they didn’t think to tell the Bay Area rockers about prior to giving them a one-minute warning to leave the stage.
The legendary three-piece were promised a 45-minute set and began it in style with ‘American Idiot’ which got the crowd elated. However, things suddenly went from ecstatic to disastrous when a warning sign flashed up saying the band only had one minute left of their allotted time when Green Day believed they still had 20 minutes left — to say Armstrong was angry would be an understatement.
“One minute fucking left!” Armstrong yelled to the arena. “You’re going to give me one fucking minute. You gotta be fucking kidding me. What the fuck? I’m not fucking Justin Bieber you motherfuckers. You gotta be fucking joking. I got one minute, one minute left. Oh now I got nothing left, now I got nothing left. Let me show you what one fucking minute fucking means!”
The Green Day man then proceeded to smash up his guitar which got a raucous reception from the audience who shared his anger about their set ending so prematurely. Armstrong’s reaction was pure unadulterated rock ‘n’ roll and gave the event a much-needed dosage of unpredictability with his bandmate Mike Dint even getting in on the action by smashing his bass in an act of solidarity.
His overreaction to having his set cut was erratic and worried his bandmates who saw it as a sign that Armstrong needed help. He was medicating himself at the time with a mix of prescription pills which he washed down with alcohol and it had quickly spiralled out of control. He even told Rolling Stone some years later that his backpack at that time “sounded like a giant baby rattle” because of all of the pills.
The singer was immediately sent off to rehab in Oakland where he managed to get himself sober with this incident being seen as the tipping point of his dangerous behaviour and Armstrong obliged — he remained sober for a number of years but now feels in control of his drinking again thanks to his years of sobriety.
Earlier this year Armstrong reflected on the incident to Q and how his thoughts on it have changed as the years have passed.“I thought it was more negative than it was. Now, I think it was one of the most punk rock moments of the last 10 years. I should have taken it as that instead of a nervous breakdown. I know it gets pretty dark for other people that were involved, like my wife and my kids, but as a piece of theatre, it was pretty amazing,” said Armstrong.
Like the Green Day leader says the incident as a piece of theatre is incredible and it’s warming to see that he can now reflect back on the incident as a stand-alone event and one of his most iconic moments. Enjoy it in all of it’s glory, below.