John Stabb, Vocalist Of Government Issue, Dies At Age 54

By Ally Schweitzer

John Stabb sings at a Government Issue reunion show in March 2015 at the Ottobar in Baltimore.
John Stabb sings at a Government Issue reunion show in March 2015 at the Ottobar in Baltimore. Josh Sisk

John Stabb, a colorful legend from D.C.’s hardcore scene, died Saturday after a battle with stomach cancer, WTOP reports. The punk frontman was 54.

Stabb posted on Facebook in January that he thought he might have appendicitis, citing stomach pain and nausea. After a trip to the emergency room, and later an urgent operation, the vocalist was diagnosed with malignant stomach cancer.

Friends of Stabb — who led the beloved and offbeat band Government Issue in the 1980s — raised more than $50,000 for his medical bills. D.C. club Black Cat, which had booked a benefit show for Stabb on Sunday night, hosted an informal wake after news broke of his death over the weekend. Proceeds from the concert will go toward Stabb’s wife, Mina Devadas, to cover remaining bills and funeral arrangements.

Real name John Dukes Schroeder, Stabb had a reputation as a witty, kind and boundlessly creative character. After Government Issue disbanded, he went on to play in several bands, including Stain, The Factory Incident and History Repeated (formerly Sleeper Agent!). Stabb was also known as a film buff and an animal lover who enjoyed taking his cat on walks.

Stabb had a brush with death nine years ago, when a group of teenagers assaulted him near his home in Burtonsville, Maryland. Stabb came out of the attack with five metal plates in his head. “I have more metal in me than Spinal Tap,” he told Washington City Paper at the time.

Punk musician and promoter Chris Moore posted a short tribute to Stabb on his Facebook page.

“He’s truly one of a kind,” Moore wrote. “He had more energy than anyone on this planet, he was funny, wore crazy clothes that only he could pull off, told great stories, he was loving, he was compassionate, he supported young punks, he was extremely creative and a just an overall amazing guy.”

  • yenalem

    Bless Mina. Bless his family from birth. Bless the DC punx and All who knew him 🙂

  • Melaney Holman

    A wonderful influence for, and on All of us. John has shared of himself. A kind, consistent, perseverant, talented and passionate man. Understood friendship. Funny. Stabb was a driving force; with a smile and dedication. I appreciated the time we spent together. He leaves many memories and recordings. His body was now offering pain, and had served him, while he provided theatrics for those watching. A great showman ! DC harDCore pioneer (Government Issue & others) Grateful.