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R.I.P., John 'Rambo' Stevens: Longtime Manager and Best Friend of John Lydon

The twosome had been friends since childhood, well before Lydon adopted the punk rock guise of Johnny Rotten.

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Source: Bryan Meadde

John Lydon and John Rambo Stevens, 2023

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John “Rambo” Stevens, longtime manager of John Lydon and friend to Lydon since their youthful days in Finsbury Park, has died, per an official press release from Public Image Ltd.. Rambo – whose age was not given in the press release – died on December 11 after suffering an aortic heart dissection.

Per the press release, “In true Rambo fashion, he battled until the very, very end, long past the doctor's predictions.”

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Source: Facebook / David Stevens, ©FusionTailoringLtd

John Lydon and John Rambo Stevens

The press release continues, "There never has been, and never will be, anyone remotely like Rambo. He had unwavering loyalty to John, and his beloved Arsenal. He lived life to the fullest and he enriched the lives of many. We send our heartfelt condolences to John and Rambo's wife Laura and all the family, who have asked for privacy at this time."

Fortunately, many of Lydon's memories of Rambo - and, indeed, recollections by Rambo himself - are readily available to those in possession of Lydon's memoirs: Rotten: No Irish - No Blacks - No Dogs, released in 1994, and Anger Is An Energy: My Life Uncensored, released in 2014.

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Source: Macmillan Publishers

The cover of John Lydon's 'Rotten,' featuring contributions from the late John Rambo Stevens

“I used to go to football in the seventies with Jimmy Lydon, John’s brother,” Rambo said in Rotten. “John used to go out to football with us, but I became a friend of Jimmy’s first before I knew John.”

"[Rambo] changed the face of football violence forever, with his commitment and organization," wrote Lydon in Anger Is An Energy. "You'd never keep up with John! He'd be quicker than a ferret into a 'row' - one third the size of whatever was challenging Arsenal, and always coming out of it with a big smile on his face."

As part of the Lydons' Finsbury Park contingent of friends, Rambo knew Lydon well before he became famed as a punk rocker, which meant that he watched him get into more than a few scrapes as a result of his budding originality, and he wasn't afraid to join in the fray. An example of this - also found within the pages of Rotten - occurred on an occasion when Lydon had begun sporting blue hair, a decidedly rare thing in Finsbury Park in the early '70s.

“I was in a chip shop one day and I saw John walking past,” recalled Rambo. “There were three other geezers coating him off and taking the piss out of him. He stood his ground. John hit one of them, so I ran out of the chip shop. We both steamed into them. We both done ‘em. We done two of them bad, and one ran off. John was little and slim. He had a row, and he might have looked a bit weird, but he stood his ground.”

Rambo continued to have Lydon's back throughout his life, eventually taking on the job of being Lydon's manager, leading to more than a few entertaining moments that are documented within Anger Is An Energy. In addition, he also served as a producer on several film projects involving Public Image Ltd. and the Sex Pistols, including the 2008 Pistols reunion concert, There'll Always Be An England, and the highly entertaining and informative 2013 holiday special, Never Mind the Baubles: Christmas '77 with the Sex Pistols.

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