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John 'Rambo' Stevens 14 February 1957 - 11 December 2023
Remembered by Phil Singleton

It was just over a week ago that I’d last heard from Rambo. As was quite often the case, it was about football. Rambo, a die hard Arsenal supporter, knew I was at the Man City V Spurs match and he desperately wanted City to give Spurs a beating. "Come on City, for fuck's sake, hammer these dogs! We want a white wash, at least 5-1. Please crush them!" He would often talk about the time delay watching games from his home in Arkansas, and on this occasion made the wisecrack, “I am ahead of your live game!” A series of texts came throughout the match and he was not amused when City broke clear in the final seconds only for the referee to inexplicably stop the match. “Oh no, ref blows whistle for a foul. Open goal that was.”

Many times over the years we’d discussed our dislike of our footballing rivals. I’d maintained although I love to see Man Utd lose, if a draw or win would help City’s cause that was ok. He was dead set against this, such was his loathing of Spurs he always wanted them to lose no matter what. It was fitting that the last communication I had from Rambo backed up his stance; “At least, we The Herd (Arsenal hardcore) wanted you guys to win without any doubt, even though a draw would be good for the team we support.”

I’m going to miss that unmistakable gruff voice at the end of the phone; “Hi Phil”. As well as football, we had another thing in common, a love of US history. Many phone calls were devoted solely to this; a TV show he’d seen, a book he’d recommend. He’d also call when something political had caught his attention, the invasion of the US Capitol for one; “Have you got your TV on? There’s a mob climbing all over the US Capitol, it’s like when the Scots invaded Wembley back in the 70s!” Those football references were never far away.

On his return from the latest PiL tour of UK/Europe he wanted to know what I’d thought of the band. He believed PiL had found a rich vein of form and he was right. He’d not just called to ask this though, he’d called to see if myself and my wife had enjoyed the show and to say it had been good to see us. He was that kind of man. I pointed out that he must surely be exhausted, two full on months of non-stop touring. I know I couldn’t do it. He was exhausted but said there was no time to rest, there was so much to do, for a start he was due back in the UK next May for another tour with John.

Concerning the Sex Pistols, through Rambo I was always aware of the group dynamics and how strained they’d become in the wake of the Pistol TV series. However, he made it clear he would never wish to police God Save The Sex Pistols (“It’s your baby”) and he knew how much I loved the band and all its various parts and personnel. He was disappointed I’d enjoyed seeing Generation Sex but I pointed out Billy Idol is no Johnny Rotten and no one thought they were watching a new version of the Pistols. He accepted this, reluctantly!

What people may not realise is the care and passion he put into all the product released under the Sex Pistols name, from box sets to T-shirts. He would call many a time to ask for an opinion. He would also express frustration at some of the recent products put out such as the Pretty Vacant T-shirt and its garish colour scheme which he felt was too contemporary. He also weighed in on last year’s Original Recordings double LP released to capitalise on Pistol. If it wasn’t for Rambo, Who Killed Bambi would have taken up a valuable spot. When the LP was released, he allowed himself a wry smile due to the errors that had crept in due to the sloppy curating by UMC. Nevertheless, Rambo was becoming increasingly concerned about the lack of quality control following the Pistol legal wranglings. He cared deeply.

Personally, more than anything, I shall miss just talking to him. Not about the Sex Pistols or anything of interest to the wider world out there, but the small stuff. Hearing him describing the deer walking past his window, or how his tractor got stuck in a hole in his field, and how on earth he was going to get it out. He would also tease how different our backgrounds were; “You’d never think we were friends. I mean, you’re not exactly a fighter!!”

When my father died eight years ago, Rambo spoke to me at length about how he’d dealt with the death of his mother. He said if there was anything he could do, please ask, before adding; “I’m not a religious man, but God bless you Phil. God bless.”

I’m not a religious man either, but God bless you Rambo. God bless. I’m going to miss you. My thoughts go out to your wife and all those close to you especially John. You were his rock.

I’m heartbroken. I can't believe that phone won't ring again.


12th December 2023

God Save The Sex Pistols ©2023 Phil Singleton /
All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced without permission.

God Save the Sex Pistols

God Save The Sex Pistols ©Phil Singleton /