Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong talks drug issues: 'I was at my pill-taking height'
In a new interview in Rolling Stone this week, Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong opens up about his addiction to alcohol and prescription medication—and the series of incidents that put him in rehab seven months ago.
If you recall, Armstrong ran into some undisclosed health issues while playing shows in Europe, and a week later had an angry meltdown on stage during the iHeartRadio Festival in Las Vegas. According to Armstrong, all those incidents snowballed into what ended up being his break point. “We were playing some shows in Europe. I was at my pill-taking height at that time, medicating the s— out of myself because I couldn’t sleep,” Armstrong said. “One night, I called a friend of mine who was in the hotel room next door. I said, ‘Come over, have some coffee.’ It’s 7 a.m. I’m like, ‘I just took all of this stuff, I can’t sleep.’ It was all normal talk, like how we’re talking now. Afterward, I’m sitting in my room, and I get a text from my manager: ‘Come on down, we have to talk about the Reading Festival.’ I went down there, he was sitting there, and he goes, ‘We’re getting on a plane. We’re canceling the rest of this tour, and you’re going into rehab.’ I was like, ‘What? What the f— are you talking about? I’m not going to do that.'”
Armstrong resisted the idea at first, citing band obligations. “I said, ‘I don’t want to cancel these gigs. It just can’t happen. Tell you what. As soon as we get home, when we’re done with the press and this stuff, after iHeartRadio, the week following I’ll go to rehab. But I can’t cancel any of this s— now.’ It turned out I was a week ahead of schedule.”
Armstrong had been sober for about a year before falling off the wagon, and he knew he had bottomed out again following the incident at iHeartRadio. “I remember tiny things,” he says of the show. “The next morning, I woke up. I asked [my wife] Adrienne, ‘How bad was it?’ She said, ‘It’s bad.’ I called my manager. He said, ‘You’re getting on a plane, going back to Oakland and going into rehab immediately.'”
The rehab run forced the band to cancel multiple tour dates and prevented them from properly promoting their albums. Now, though, Green Day are ready to get back to business — they’re scheduled to play a handful of club dates next week leading up to their first-ever appearance at South By Southwest before launching a proper arena tour at the end of March, when they’ll finally get to present the massive batch of new material they released last fall as the three album series ¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, and ¡Tre!.
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