John Stabb - vocals
John Barry - guitar
Brian Gay - bass
Mark Alberstadt - drums
Government Issue, or GI, debuted at the two-day Unheard Music Festival at D.C. Space in December of 1980. Because their drummer was sick and unable to play the shows, they called themselves The Substitutes and invited guest-players to sit in for each of the nights. Almost every young D.C. punk band that played over the two nights did a cover of the Monkees' "Stepping Stone," and the GI/Substitutes' ten-second version was the stand-out.
The singer, John Stabb, got his nickname from The Stab, a band that he claimed to have been in when he first started showing up at Teen Idles gigs. He hooked up with John, Brian, and Mark to form the original GI in the fall of 1980. With the line-up intact, the band played its second show, only to have it shut down by the cops. Despite the rocky start, GI went on to play for nearly a decade.
'The Substitutes' name actually ended up being somewhat prophetic as by the end in 1989, almost a dozen different people had joined and left the band (including Tom Lyle, Brian Baker and J. Robbins), leaving John as the only remaining original member.
Photo: John Stabb, 1981 by Unknown