Fans from around the world have been making the Green Day pilgrimage to the Bay Area for many years. Their roots are everywhere, in sites so ordinary and irrelevant to everyone else, yet rich in history to fans. This year I finally completed my tour, seeing songs I love become three-dimensional as I admired unmarked doorways and dodgy street corners. These are the Bay Area's Green Day landmarks.
924 Gilman Street
Green Day's career truly began in this Berkeley club. 924 Gilman Street is still open with many new East Bay punk bands starting their careers under its graffitied rafters. Its original 'no racism, no sexism, no homophobia, no violence' sign now includes 'no transphobia.' The doorway is covered in the names and messages of mostly Green Day fans. Inside, you'll also find original 'Sweet Children' graffiti.
- Rolling Stone Magazine, 1995
Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe
Named after Rudie Can't Fail by The Clash, Rudy's is co-owned by Mike Dirnt. It opened in Emeryville in 2002, with an Oakland location following in 2011. Sadly, the Oakland cafe closed in 2018, but Rudy's is still open and popular in Emeryville with options for all tastes. It's open every day until 1am and serves Mike Dirnt's Oakland Coffee.
7th Street warehouse
Billie Joe had just moved into this warehouse squat when he wrote Welcome to Paradise. Its bathroom was infested with rats, so he used a cat litter instead. It's also referred to in the Sweet 16 line 'throwing down a bottle of Olde English back in the warehouse' and inspired the 'wicked warehouse in Oakland' Brandon moves into in Spike by The Network. One of My Lies was written here.
- Billie Joe Armstrong, 2019
West Oakland BART Station
- Billie Joe Armstrong, 2019
This is that station. The 7th Street warehouse was right by the BART tracks.
Dookie and Billie Joe's first record, Look For Love, were recorded at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley. It closed in 2019.
- Billie Joe Armstrong, 2014
Just five minutes down the I-80 from Rodeo, this housing development (and its hot tubs) gave the Foxboro Hot Tubs their name. Hot tubs are still dotted around the town.
- Billie Joe Armstrong, 2008
Powel Street BART Station
Green Day walk through this station in the When I Come Around video. Billie Joe pulls one of these phones off the wall during the line 'so go do what you like.'
Hyde Street Studios
Insomniac was recorded at Hyde Street Studios in San Francisco. The band fuelled up with caffeine between takes. Tré repeatedly ripped the calluses off his hands to perfect Panic Song.
- Billie Joe Armstrong, Kerrang
Lake Merritt & Gardens at Lake Merritt
Oakland's iconic lake gets a mention in the Foxboro Hot Tubs song Mother Mary, along with the Gardens at Lake Merritt: "Or we can take a walk around the lake / There's a garden in the park there / Under the stars next to the fireside / Anywhere is better than here."
Before the release of 21st Century Breakdown, Green Day played the full album at four exclusive small shows in the Bay Area. The Fox Theatre performance on April 14, 2009 was recorded and released on DVD. The theatre also hosted the Dookie celebration and 924 Gilman Street benefit gig, where mayor Libby Schaaf declared February 19 Official Green Day Day in Oakland.
One of Oakland's major roads, this was also the name of a clothing line and record label owned by Billie Joe and Jason White. It released albums by Pinhead Gunpowder, The Frustrators, The Network, Jesse Malin, AFI, The Influents, Emily's Army, special edition Green Day vinyls and many more. The record label outlived the clothing line, but closed in 2017.
Alameda County Sheriff's Office
The 'facility on East 12th Street' where 'Jesus is filling out paperwork now' in Homecoming is this now-closed police station. Billie Joe had to fill out paperwork here after his 2002 DUI.
- Billie Joe Armstrong, 2005
Berkeley Marina, with views of San Francisco and Golden Gate Bridge, gets a mention in The Ballad of Wilhelm Fink: "Said that I'd meet you at the Berkeley Marina / 3AM when no one will be found."
Rodeo San Francisco Refinery
The towers of Rodeo's oil refinery appear on the cover of Dookie. It also inspired the 21st Century Breakdown lyric "my town is blind from refinery sun," in reference to the polluted air Billie Joe grew up with.
- Billie Joe Armstrong, 2005
27th Avenue, Oakland
27th Ave. Shuffle by the Foxboro Hot Tubs is named after this street, probably because it was recorded at Studio 880 which is on 27th Avenue.
Rod's Hickory Pit
On October 17, 1987, when Billie Joe and Mike were 15 - Sweet Children played their first ever show at a Vallejo diner, Rod's Hickory Pit. Billie Joe's mom Ollie was a waitress there and arranged the show. Its 30 attendees were impressed enough to invite them back. Sadly, the diner has now been demolished and replaced with a Starbucks.
This 40th Street guitar store, across the road from 1-2-3-4 GO! Records, is co-owned by Billie Joe. Walls are decorated with Green Day and other East Bay Punk flyers. There's also an original Christie Road sign.
San Francisco's Chinatown
The Warning cover shoot by Marina Chavez took place in San Francisco's Chinatown. Green Day are walking past this bakery on the cover.
Berkeley Repertory Theatre
The American Idiot musical was developed and opened at the Berkeley Rep's Roda Theatre. The premiere was on September 4, 2009. One of the theatre's promotional banners still boasts a photo of John Gallagher Jr., who played Johnny. Nearby is a sidewalk plaque celebrating Operation Ivy's Knowledge.
- Billie Joe Armstrong, 2009
This popular San Francisco street is referred to in Misery, when the character "Mr. Whirly" - a Replacements reference - ends up homeless and begging there: "Mr. Whirly had a catastrophic incident / He fell into the city by the bay / He liquidated his estate / Now he sleeps upon the Haight / Panhandling misery."
John Swett High School
Billie Joe and Mike Dirnt's first high school.
- John Goar, teacher, 1997
At Fiat Music, five year-old Billie Joe was taught to play piano and sing by Marie Louise Fiatarone and her husband. Look For Love was composed in the back studio, where walls are decorated with Green Day fanart.
- Marie Louise Fiatarone, 2006
Art of Ears Studio
1000 Hours, Slappy and 39/Smooth were recorded at a now-closed branch of Art of Ears in San Francisco. Kerplunk was recorded here at Art of Ears in Hayward. All were produced by Andy 'Andro' Ernst. As of 2019, Andro is working on his own music before selling the studio and moving to Las Vegas, where he says there's a lively punk club.
- Billie Joe Armstrong, 2001
Pinole Valley High School
Billie Joe and Mike Dirnt's second high school after moving from John Swett. Green Day also played an iconic show on the grounds here. Its sign celebrated Green Day as "Spartan Alumni" when they were inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 2015 - despite Billie Joe's story of handing an EP to a teacher for it to be returned with red marks all over it.
Passalacqua Funeral Chapel
This chapel in Benicia gave the 39/Smooth song Going to Pasalacqua its name. The song title misspelled it. Green Day supposedly drove by the chapel while Billie Joe was writing the lyrics, hence the name. He also said "this song is about revenge" before playing it in 2010, so he may have picked up on a funeral chapel for that reason.
Tight Wad Hill
Tight Wad Hill was where cheapskates and addicts watched football games for free. There's a famous Tight Wad Hill in Berkeley, but it's a lesser-known hill by John Swett High School that inspired the Green Day song. Since the school's football field has moved since the song was written, today's Tight Wad Hill probably doesn't look like the Tight Wad Hill of 1995.
- Billie Joe Armstrong, 1995
Also known as Jingletown Studios, this is where Green Day recorded Warning, the Foxboro Hot Tubs’ Stop Drop and Roll!!!, the ¡Uno! ¡Dos! ¡Tré! trilogy and parts of American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown. It got the nickname "Jingletown" when the Foxboro Hot Tubs used it to cover up their identity.
Carquinez Middle School
The school where Billie Joe and Mike met.
- Billie Joe Armstrong in his Rock & Roll Hall of Fame acceptance speech, 2015
Ruby Room by the Foxboro Hot Tubs is about this dive bar near Lake Merritt.
C&H Sugar Factory
This factory gives Crockett the nickname "Sugartown," which inspired the line "Sugar City urchin wasting time" in Tight Wad Hill. It also appears in the Nightlife lyrics "sugar-coated halls" and "this dirty city is my Sugartown," most likely since Lady Cobra worked at Sugar City Tattoo in Crockett.
The 7-Eleven, Pinole
The "7-Eleven where I was taught" in Jesus of Suburbia, where Billie Joe worked for a while.
"At the center of the earth in the parking lot / At the 7-Eleven where I was taught / The motto was just a lie / It says home is where your heart is but what a shame / 'Cause everyone's heart doesn't beat the same / It's beating out of time."
The Ashby/Longview house
The Longview video was filmed in the basement here, where Billie Joe and Tré lived with another band called the East Bay Weed Company. Amanda - the subject of many Green Day songs including She, Sassafras Roots, Stuart and the Ave. and Whatsername - lived upstairs.
- Tré Cool, American Idiots and the New Punk Explosion, p.82
- Billie Joe Armstrong, 2005
1-2-3-4 GO! Records
Green Day have supported this 40th Street store since it opened in 2008. Billie Joe built the stage with his son Joey, which hosted an ¡Uno! ¡Dos! ¡Tré! surprise show billed as a "Bay Area Fan Appreciation Event." They've played more secret shows there since. Eagle-eyed fans might recognise the bathroom graffiti from Billie Joe's selfie announcing The Longshot's first show at this store. The pop-up shop celebrating Green Day's show at the Oakland Coliseum was also located here.
Jingletown and La Barca Market
Although the "suburbia" that inspired American Idiot was Rodeo and surrounding areas, Jingletown - a real neighbourhood in Oakland - gave the album's fictional small town its name. La Barca Market, a store near Studio 880, appears for a few seconds in the ¡Cuatro! scene That Just Happened and is notable for having one of the only signs that actually says "Jingletown."
- Billie Joe Armstrong explaining Jingletown's name, 2004
The Red Onion
Billie Joe worked at this diner opposite the 7-Eleven in Pinole. Also right by the diner are Pinole Library, Pinole Valley High School, Fiat Music and the mall where Jesus of Suburbia 'read the graffiti in the bathroom stall, like the holy scriptures of the shopping mall.' It's another snapshot of the sleepy small town life that influenced the song.
The Foxboro Hot Tubs song Highway 1 is named after California's longest state route.
Both Sweet Children and Green Day played the Camel Barns in Benicia. Bands they shared bills with include Monsula, Separate Ways, Bumblescrump and Blatz.
The Coverups, a "cover band that doesn't take requests" - including Billie Joe, Mike, Jason White, Pinhead Gunpowder bassist Bill Schneider and audio engineer Chris Dugan - played their ever first show here. At a later show, they held a raffle and gave away the Cadillac limousine they'd used to travel to their shows.
Telegraph Avenue and Stuart Street
"The corner of Stuart and the Avenue" is where Telegraph Avenue meets Stuart Street in Berkeley. The song is about Billie Joe's breakup with his ex Amanda, the girl who lived upstairs at the Ashby House, which a five minute walk from this corner.
Misión San Francisco de Asís
The When I Come Around music video begins and ends with a night shot of this San Francisco church.
This city northeast of Oakland gets a mention in The Network's Spike. Obviously, The Network have nothing to do with Green Day, but...
The deserted road off Highway 4 that inspired fan favourite Christie Road from Kerplunk, also one of Mike's favourite songs. Billie Joe and Mike hung out with friends, or alone there and smoked weed. Close to the highway, it's still noisy and exposed, but only a few minutes down the road there's undisturbed silence. Despite the nearby refinery, the air is clear. Occasionally a train rolls by. It's easy to see why it was such a beloved refuge for the band. For many fans, it's not only a favourite song, but a favourite landmark.
Christie Road returns in Outlaws, described as a nostalgic ode to lost youth and sequel to the 1992 track. "I found a knife by the railroad track / You took a train and you can’t go back / Forever now you'll roam."
Are you planning a tour? Dreaming of going? Let us know! Head to the thread on Green Day Community to discuss with other fans.