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.

[quote]Armstrong and Dirnt began living for their weekends at the Gilman Street Project. Run out of the back of a caning-and-wicker-shop, the club would go unnoticed by anyone passing by. For those familiar with the side entrance, however, the shop opens into a world that Armstrong refers to as "salvation": dilapidated wood floorboards; graffiti splashed across every inch of wall space; band after band with the look and sound of early British punk like the Sex Pistols and the Buzzcocks.[/quote]
- 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.

[quote]I had moved out of my house in the suburbs to West Oakland, into a warehouse that was rat-infested and in a really fucked-up neighborhood, with a lot of crazy punks and friends. I was paying $50 a month for rent, which was great, because, being in a band, you got paid a couple hundred bucks here and there – so it was easy to pay for rent, eat Top Ramen, and buy weed. It was an eye-opening experience. Suddenly, I was on my own, smack out in one of the gnarliest neighborhoods in Oakland. You look around and you see cracked streets and broken homes and ghetto neighborhoods, and you’re in the middle of it.[/quote]
- Billie Joe Armstrong, 2019

West Oakland BART Station

[quote]'A gunshot rings out at the station/Another urchin snaps and left dead on his own' - I was describing exactly what my surroundings were. There’s not a part of that song that isn’t true.[/quote]
- Billie Joe Armstrong, 2019

This is that station. The 7th Street warehouse was right by the BART tracks.

Fantasy Studios

Dookie and Billie Joe's first record, Look For Love, were recorded at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley. It closed in 2019.

[quote][Fantasy Studios] definitely had that Seventies coke-y vibe, mahogany and strange dead wood around the place. We would go into the vaults and see all of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s master tapes. But I felt we belonged there. Our first album cost $700 to make. Kerplunk! was like $1200. “Let’s record these as fast as we can – because we don’t have a choice.” This time, I learned how to dial in good sounds, get the best guitar tones. I was able to take a little time doing vocals. I loved that experience.[/quote]
- 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.

[quote]The Foxboro Hot Tubs were a place we used to sneak booze and chicks into late at night. But most of the time it was just 'dude soup.'[/quote]
- 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.

[quote]The fact that that album came out, like, a year and a half after Dookie was us trying to cut off the bullshit in its tracks and just keep making music. That’s all we wanted to do, keep making music. Sometimes I feel that Insomniac is the most honest record I ever made at the particular moment that it was written and recorded.[/quote]
- 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."

Fox Theatre

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.

Adeline Street

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.

[quote]There's a police station on 12th Street in Oakland. After I got charged with a DUI, I had to do a whole bunch of paperwork there to satisfy my community service requirement.[/quote]
- Billie Joe Armstrong, 2005

Berkeley Marina

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.

[quote]We came from such a highly polluted area in Rodeo, California. It’s a refinery town and we ended up getting sent home from school because kids were having headaches and nobody could understand why, when of course, 200 yards away from the elementary school I went to was the biggest refinery in America.[/quote]
- 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.​

Broken Guitars

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.

[quote]It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but that’s what I love about it. When people see it, it’s going to be my wildest dream.[/quote]
- Billie Joe Armstrong, 2009

The Haight

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.

[quote]I had this kid in class who became a rock star. I remember Billie Joe well. He used to sit in my math class on the third floor of the ancient, run down brick building in the back of the room right next to the window. He had a perfect view of Tight Wad Hill. I don't remember if he was a good student... if he did his homework or got good grades. But I do remember him as a good person, he got along with just about everyone – except, perhaps, the vice principal – and he was pretty cool, mature for his age.[/quote]
- John Goar, teacher, 1997

Fiat Music

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.

[quote]Billie Joe’s mother brought him in because she was signing him up for piano lessons. Jim took one look at him and said, 'He looks like he really belongs in show business. Why don’t you take him in the studio and see if he can sing?'[/quote]
- 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.

[quote]$700 is not a lot of money to be making an album with. But that's what we thought was cool as well. We proved that you didn't need to have a huge budget, that you didn't need to waste a lot of time. I think if we had any more money to spend then we were so young and naive that [39/Smooth] might have come out crap.[/quote]
- 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.

[quote]This is where all the losers, the cheapskates, would come up and watch the football games without paying for them. It's actually the best view in the whole place. A lot of tweakers come and hang out up here, the crank victims and stuff.[/quote]
- Billie Joe Armstrong, 1995

Studio 880

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.

[quote]Our school district went bankrupt, so they closed down the junior high and combined two elementary schools. We used to have to take the bus out there. First day of elementary school, I think in fifth grade, I was like the class clown - but Mike was like the class clown, so it was kind of like these dueling banjos that were going to go back and forth. What you get is Deliverance. Mike is my musical soulmate.[/quote]
- Billie Joe Armstrong in his Rock & Roll Hall of Fame acceptance speech, 2015

Ruby Room

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.

[quote]The record company guys would come to see us rehearse in the basement and their wives would go shopping on Telegraph Avenue. And when we went on tour we would come back to discover these crusty punks had squatted our place, and every single thing we owned was gone.[/quote]
- Tré Cool, American Idiots and the New Punk Explosion, p.82

[quote][Basket Case] still reminds me so much of the Ashby house. That's the house we lived in, in Berkeley and our first video, Longview, was filmed there. We'd be cranking that song out in there, all of us playing in this one tiny room and our neighbours getting pissed because we'd play it five times in a row.[/quote]
- 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."

[quote]In the old days, the zoot-suit guys used to jingle their change, and this was their spot. It's been held down by Latino families for 50 years. And then there's us.[/quote]
- 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.

Highway 1

The Foxboro Hot Tubs song Highway 1 is named after California's longest state route.

Camel Barns

Both Sweet Children and Green Day played the Camel Barns in Benicia. Bands they shared bills with include Monsula, Separate Ways, Bumblescrump and Blatz.

Ivy Room

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...

Christie Road

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."

Read the full story of my tour: part 1 / part 2

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