Government Issue vocalist John Stabb passed away yesterday at the age of 54 as a result of stomach cancer. There’s no exaggeration in saying John was one of the most talented and entertaining microphone-wielders of his era. He’s every bit as memorable (if not more so) simply for being a terrific guy. Walking-talking-funny-pants-wearing embodiment of everything a musician, music fan and friend oughta be.
Much will be written about G.I.’s role in the growth of the DC hardcore scene and U.S. punk in general, but genre qualifications be damned. For those lucky enough to have seen them repeatedly, Government Issue were one of the planet’s best bands, period. Their 3 studio albums on Fountain Of Youth are fantastic ; the pair of semi-crossover-y albums for the short-lived Giant label are nearly as awesome. There’s odds & sods bits on Mystic and Lost & Found that are either essential or skippable depending on your POV. But the live shows were killer thru myriad lineups…and John + guitarist Tom Lyle oughta be considerate one of the great partnerships of any era.
On or offstage, my memories of John are that he carried himself with the sort of dignity and humor that’s often in short supply, especially in mob scenes (and that’s not limited to hardcore shows). My thoughts this morning are with his friends, family and bandmates.