An Idiot Never Forgets #4: Corey Okubo Remembers the ‘Bittersweet’ Rise of Green Day

Like many Green Day fans (ourselves included), Corey Okubo remembers the period surrounding the Slim’s show as a special time, but one that was tinged with a hint of sadness – it was great to see Green Day move on to bigger and better things, but at the same time we knew they would no longer be our little secret for long. In a few weeks, they would belong to the world – and the world would be a better place for it. At the same time, it was like saying goodbye to a good friend who was moving away to attend college, or just for a new opportunity – you hoped you’d see them again, but you didn’t know when, and you knew it would be different when you did.
Corey reached out to us to share his thoughts on the early ‘90s punk scene in the Bay Area, and his history with Green Day. He also shared some great artifacts from the era that, somehow, through the passing years, serve as a time capsule from a very special moment in music history.
Thanks to Corey for holding onto those mementos, and the memories – and for sharing them with us.


Read on for his account – and be sure to share your own memories with us.

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I was a fan of Green Day and had seen them five or six times at Berkeley Square. I always enjoyed that sweatbox and gritty venue, and those times for me were the best parts of being young and carefree. Seeing shows almost every night. Skankin' Pickle, Primus, The Mr. T Experience, Overwhelming Colorfast, The Vandals, No Doubt, Tilt, The Dance Hall Crashers and too many more to list.
I remember Green Day's rise as something bittersweet, because you know as a fan you are happy for their success and popularity, but then you know in your heart that things will never be the same again. I was at the Slim's show in February and, if my memory serves me right, it was the show that Billie Joe burned the BAM magazine, and I still think the fan base was in majority "old school.” I managed to get a ticket to the July show because their popularity was about to skyrocket. The ticket I got included a VIP dinner because the General Admission tickets had sold out. I can't really speak to any stand-out memories, but they always put on a performance that makes you forget about any bad times and you feel like you would not wanna trade places with anyone in the world for that night.
We all probably wish we could have the hundreds of photos and videos that we have today, to look back on that night, but maybe that's why it's so special, because nobody was thinking about how they needed to capture the moment. It was a show without distractions, and it was a show can't be re-created. I have seen Green Day only four times since the older days, but they still know how to make you forget about the cares of the world and have the "Time of Your Life.”

An Idiot Never Forgets #3: Bay Area Photographer Jay Blakesberg Shares His Memories (and Photos!) From the Slim’s Show!

Idiots, you’re in for a treat.

Our third installment of An Idiot Never Forgets features Jay Blakesberg, a Bay Area music photographer of great renown.

Jay has photographed hundreds, if not thousands, of musicians in his illustrious career. He was the go-to music photographer in the Bay Area during the period when the Slim’s show went down. His photos and my (Tim’s) byline were paired up on numerous occasions, especially in the pages of the late, lamented music weekly BAM, where Jay worked as the staff photographer. He was essential in chronicling the Bay Area music scene of that era, and in fact his photos were ultimately used for the High Times article that allowed Mike and I entry to the pivotal Green Day gig at Slim’s that our book centers around.

Mike and I reached out to Jay to get his memories from the show, and he was gracious enough to provide not only his memories, but his photos from that day. We hope you enjoy both.

In an odd twist, Jay’s story intersects with our second installment of An Idiot Never Forgets by Gil Warguez, who was next to Jay in the audience at the show. Gil recalled that he “had a nice chat with him before the show started.”

Small world, huh? But a magical, friendly, and tight-knit world, and one that we are thrilled to share.

Check out more of Jay’s work HERE.


Read on for Jay’s thoughts on the Green Day gig at Slim’s, and enjoy the photos:

Before the show that night I did a band portrait shoot with them in the alley behind Slim’s.  The shoot in the alley was for a tattoo magazine. They were goofy, bouncing off each other, hard to keep in one place.  But I did get a few memorable portraits, and some good live shots while getting crushed in a sea of people that was ebbing and flowing like the tide, but in this case it was the music that was fierce and powerful that was making the crowd sway and move in all directions. I was just a few feet on the other side of the pole you see on your book cover. Close enough to shoot Billie Joe and see Mike in the background, but not a good angle to shoot Tré, so most of my images are of Billie Joe. He was playful as ever, making rock star poses (I’m sure with a touch of sarcasm), and fierce as any punk rocker!

We all could feel this band was on the verge of exploding…and as we all know, they did.  But at Slim’s that night they played like they still had lots to prove.  

Killer rock and roll in San Francisco. It was a good time to be shooting Rock and Roll in SF!

 

An Idiot Never Forgets #2: Gil Warguez Shares His Memories of the Slim’s Show!

Mike went searching for “An Idiot Never Forgets #2” and tracked down Gil Warguez, who was in attendance at the July 5, 1994, Slim’s show. Gil had posted a couple of photos of that night on Flickr, which he graciously has allowed us to use. The photos are of Billie Joe Armstrong and his wife Adrienne, just days after their wedding. We’ll be posting those photos as well as others this week. In the meantime, here are Gil’s recollections of that night.

The show at Slim’s nightclub in San Francisco on July 5th, 1994 was the first time I attended a Green Day concert. Unfortunately, I didn’t see them at 924 Gilman in Berkeley. At the time, “Longview” was in heavy rotation on Bay Area modern rock radio station Live 105, and the video for the song was being shown quite a bit on MTV.
 
In late June, I watched Green Day perform “Basket Case” on “Late Show with David Letterman.” It was the band’s first appearance on Letterman. The day after, on June 30 (technically the same day), I drove to Slim’s to buy a ticket at the box office for the show, since I figured it was going to sell out. As I was driving back to the East Bay with my ticket, guess who I saw in the vehicle next to mine on the freeway in Oakland? That’s right, Green Day. They must’ve just come from Oakland International Airport following their Letterman appearance.
 
I arrived at Slim’s on July 5 pretty early (probably around soundcheck time). It was still daylight. I brought my “Dookie” CD and a disposable camera. When I spotted Billie Joe, I got the CD from my vehicle and asked him to sign it. He signed the back of the booklet and the disc itself. A guy (friend/roadie?) with him asked me if I wanted him to sign the booklet, too. I said sure. He signed the back. His signature looks like “Rich.” Does anyone know who he is?
 
During the show, I was in the front row to the left of Billie. I don’t recall specific details about Green Day’s set. I just remember that they played great and that the crowd was wild. Before the show started, I had a nice chat with photographer Jay Blakesberg, who was standing next to me. He informed me that he was shooting the show for “Rolling Stone.” A month or so after, I did see his photo of Billie in “Rolling Stone.” According to setlist.fm, this show was professionally filmed, and the footage was used for the official “Welcome To Paradise” video. However, I don’t recall seeing any cameras filming, and in the video, Billie, Mike & Tré are wearing different clothes. I believe the footage is from their show at Slim’s in February 1994.
 
After the show, I went back to my vehicle to get my camera. I took two photos outside Slim’s. The first photo is of Billie Joe and Adrienne with a girl I met there. I can’t remember the girl’s name, but I think that’s her in the middle of the main photo on the “Green Day Rising” website. She took my photo with Billie Joe, but I can’t find it. The second photo is of Billie and Adrienne taken when a fan (out of view) approached Billie. I like this photo because Billie and Adrienne are holding hands. They were newlyweds. They had just gotten married on July 2nd.
 
I saw Green Day only twice after that Slim’s show, both times at Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center in Oakland on May 27–28, 1995. They were already playing large venues, so their July 5, 1994 show at Slim’s, a venue with a maximum capacity of 500, was a very special moment.