Cover Story Excerpt: Billie Joe Armstrong on the Troubled Days Before His Meltdown

'I was medicating myself because I couldn't sleep,' says Green Day frontman

Billie Joe Armstrong on the cover of Rolling Stone.
Danny Clinch
Billie Joe Armstrong on the cover of Rolling Stone.
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In the new issue of Rolling Stone, Billie Joe Armstrong opens up to senior writer David Fricke about his years of alcohol and prescription drug abuse, his road back from his onstage meltdown at the iHeartRadio festival in Las Vegas last September, Green Day's canceled tour dates and more. Here is an excerpt from the cover story, where Armstrong reflects on an alarming incident that occurred before Vegas.

Billie Joe Armstrong: The Cover Story Soundtrack 

Were there any warning signs on the way to Las Vegas?
It's funny, because there was an incident in England. We were playing some shows in Europe. I was at my pill-taking height at that time, medicating the shit out of myself because I couldn't sleep. We went to Japan, we went to England, we were zigzagging everywhere.

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 fuck are you talking about? I'm not going to do that."

We talked about it later. We got to this theater gig we were playing in London. 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 shit now."

It turned out I was a week ahead of schedule.

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