Green Day lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong is heading to rehab just days before the band is to release the first of three new albums. The revelation comes less than 48 hours after Armstrong ranted and smashed his guitar at Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio Festival in Las Vegas.
Green Day, along with Usher and Rihanna, was one of the headliners Friday night at the MGM Grand. Armstrong cut short a performance of 1994 hit “Basket Case,” hollering that he wanted to play a new song, and then called attention to a digital ticker that said the band had one minute left onstage.
He used that last 60 seconds to vent. It’s ridden with too many expletives to quote directly.
“Give me a ... break,” Armstrong shouted. “One minute left. One minute ... left. You’re gonna give me ... one minute? Look at that ... sign right there. One minute. Let me ... tell you something. Let me tell you something. I’ve been around since ... 1980 ... 8 and you’re going to give me one ... minute? You gotta be ... kidding me ... I’m not ... Justin Bieber."
Bieber was not on the bill, but Green Day had taken the stage after Bieber mentor Usher had finished his performance. Green Day, according to an on-site report from the Las Vegas Sun, took the stage about 30 minutes late and performed a truncated set. Rihanna was to close the night, and did so after Armstrong smashed his guitar and stormed offstage.
The statement on the Green Day site sought to make it clear that radio heavyweight Clear Channel had nothing to do with pulling the plug on Green Day’s set.
“Billie Joe is seeking treatment for substance abuse,” read the statement. “We would like everyone to know that our set was not cut short by Clear Channel and to apologize to those we offended at the iHeartRadio Festival in Las Vegas. We regretfully must postpone some of our upcoming promotional appearances."
The site didn’t elaborate on which promotional appearances would be axed, but already a performance Monday for Los Angeles radio station KROQ-FM (106.7) has been postponed. Green Day was to appear on a host of talk shows this week, including “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” and was also to appear Wednesday at Burbank’s surf-and-skate shop Tilly’s for a fan signing. It’s presumed that the latter three events will also be postponed, but official information has not yet been released.
Armstrong’s rant comes at a time when Green Day has been in the midst of a rather mainstream promotional campaign for its album "¡Uno!,” which has seen the band gradually distancing itself from its more recent political and topical material. Already, the band has partnered with Nokia Music and has released a branded version of “Angry Birds Friends.”
Green Day also hasn’t exactly been hard to book, having appeared on MTV’s “Video Music Awards” and “America’s Got Talent,” among many other promotional performances. Unknown as of yet is whether or not this will affect Armstrong’s scheduled role as a mentor on NBC’s talent competition “The Voice."
Until Sunday’s statement, Armstrong’s tirade had been viewed as little more than a bit of ol'-fashioned punk rock theater. For those looking for some signs of life amid Green Day’s corporate partnerships and lighter sound, it may have even been welcome. New album "¡Uno!” arrives Sept. 25, and it’s a happy-go-lucky mid-tempo pop affair, displaying none of the ferocity Armstrong possessed Friday night.
Publicly, even Clear Channel and its iHeartRadio Festival at first endorsed Amrstrong’s antics. “WOW!!!! ...and the guitar is officially broken,” the festival posted on its official Twitter page during the concert, ultimately describing Green Day’s appearance as “monumental.” Meanwhile, the I Heart Radio site declared the performance “one of the most epic, punk rock sets in recent memory."
Yet tempering the excitement is an uncomfortable video recorded backstage with radio personality Lisa Kennedy Montgomery. Said to be filmed after the concert, it sees Montgomery asking a rather flirtatious Armstrong how he maintains his voice. Armstrong’s answer, before getting cozy with the interviewer: “Alcohol."
Armstrong was rushed to a hospital in Italy in early September for an undisclosed illness, forcing the band to cancel a show in Bologna. The band next returns to Las Vegas on Feb. 8, 2013, a performance scheduled for the MGM Garden Arena.