Frontmen Joel and Benji Madden grew up in the town of Waldorf, Maryland. They started the band in 1996 when they recruited childhood friends Paul Thomas (bass) and Aaron Escolopio (drums). They soon moved to Annapolis and met Billy Martin through a mutual interest in the band Silverchair.
Airplay on radio stations WHFS and Philadelphia's Y100, as well as gigs with band such as Blink 182, Lit, Eve 6, Nine Days and Bad Religion, eventually led to a contract with Epic Records, which released Good Charlotte's self-titled debut album in 2000. One song, "The Click," was featured as the theme song for MTV's animated series, "Undergrads," then later added to the rereleased version of their self-titled CD.
Escolopio left the band in early 2001 to join the band Wakefield with his brother. He was replaced with Dusty, who left the band before the recording of their second album, The Young & the Hopeless. As a result, Josh Freese plays on that album.
The Maddens' stint as VJs on the MTV show "All Things Rock" helped boost their profile even higher. As a result, "The Young & the Hopeless" was a major success, with 5 singles.
The Maddens also run a record label called DC Flag, and the clothing company MADE. Guitarist Billy Martin also runs a clothing company, Level 27.
The band are currently in the studio, recording their third studio album titled "The Chronicles Of Life And Death". They are scheduled to play 12 dates on the 2004 Vans Warped Tour.
Good Charlotte has a very low amount of credibility among the punk scene. Many fans of the genre claim that their fondness of MTV, major labels, and brand name clothing stands in stark contrast to the DIY (do it yourself) ethic punk was founded on. Fans of the band believe Good Charlotte shouldn't be prevented from success based solely on rules established over 25 years ago. This is an unsolvable debate that tends to rest mostly on a person's definition of punk music.