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Tim Armstrong

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One of the key figures of American punk rock in the 1990s and onward, Tim Armstrong is best known as the singer and guitarist with the band Rancid, though his résumé begins years before that band rose to prominence. Born in Oakland, CA, in the fall of 1966, Armstrong was friends since childhood with Matt Freeman, and as teenagers the two became converts to punk rock after seeing the Clash open for the Who in Oakland in 1982. Armstrong and Freeman were also deeply influenced by the British ska revival of the ’80s, which had a major impact in California, and in 1987 they formed the influential ska punk band Operation Ivy; while the group lasted a bit less than two years and only released one single and one album, their revved-up fusion of punk and Jamaican sounds made them kings at Northern California’s fabled all-aged club 924 Gilman Street. Internal friction caused Operation Ivy to break up in 1989, and an attempt by Armstrong and Freeman to put together a new band, Downfall, fell apart after a mere three shows in late 1989. Armstrong developed a serious drinking problem, while Freeman started playing bass for veteran anarchist punks MDC. But in 1991, a newly sober Armstrong and his friend Freeman gave launching a band another try, recruiting drummer Brett Reed and later guitarist Lars Frederiksen to form Rancid.

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