On Saturday 7 May 2016, John ‘Stabb’ Schroeder, best known as the vocalist with GOVERNMENT ISSUE, passed away at a Hospice center in Rockville, Maryland after a battle with stomach cancer. He was aged 54.
Born John Dukes Schroeder in Washington on 12 July 1961, he grew up in Rockville and graduated from Magruder High School in 1979. His first marriage, to Mika Ackerman, ended in divorce. On St Patrick’s Day 2016, he married his long-term partner Mina Devadas.
Stabb formed GOVERNMENT ISSUE in 1980 (originally called THE STAB) and remained the band’s only constant member.
GOVERNMENT ISSUE’s history is well documented elsewhere, but the band released six studio albums and a myriad of EPs, morphing from the DC Hardcore sound of the 1981 debut, ‘Legless Bull’ EP released on Dischord Records, through wider experimentation with psychedelic tones and slower rhythms, culminating with the final studio album, ‘Crash’ in 1988 and the ‘Strange Wine’ EP the following year when the band split.
Following GOVERNMENT ISSUE’s demise, Stabb continued to front several DC bands including STAIN, EMMA PEEL, WEATHERHEAD, BETTY BLUE, THE FACTORY INCIDENT and, up until shortly before his passing, HISTORY REPEATED.
Over the years, GOVERNMENT ISSUE played a series of reunion shows including 2007, 2010 and most recently in 2015.
Stabb was renowned for bucking the trend of Hardcore Punk fashion by growing out his hair, wearing all sorts of flamboyant, bright clothing and leisure suits. This is emphasized in the Going Underground book where he states: "I didn’t care if it was a purple velour women’s pants outfit with a vest with pleats for breasts; I’d wear it."
In recent years he had been working on his memoirs, entitled Hear The Scream which chronicles his troubled childhood, his time in GOVERNMENT ISSUE and recent life events.
Following a series of hospital visits at the end of January 2016, Stabb was diagnosed with malignant stomach cancer. At a HISTORY REPEATED show on 19 January 2016, he announced to the audience that he had appendicitis and would need to go to the ER after their set. After a misdiagnosis, he was rushed back to the hospital on 29 January, where doctors performed emergency surgery to remove two tumors from his gastrointestinal tract.
Stabb is survived by his wife, Mina and his two brothers and two sisters.
While GOVERNMENT ISSUE never released a duff record, the two that always have most affect on me are ‘Joy Ride’ from 1984 and more specifically, ‘You’ from 1987. Dr. Strange Records released the band’s entire catalogue (bar the ‘Legless Bull’ EP which can be found easily on Dischord’s ‘The Year In Seven Inches’ comp) on two twin-CD packages in 2000, which remain a great place for the curious to start.
Unfortunately I never got to see the band live, although I was aware of them playing in the UK. In fact, the insert of the ‘You’ album included a photo taken on Brighton Beach.