John Blackwell Jr., the long-time live drummer for Prince, has passed away following a year long battle with brain tumours at the age of 43.
After announcing that he had been moved to a rehabilitation facility early last week, Blackwell’s wife Yaritza Blackwell took to Instagram to share the news this morning, writing “My husband incredible drummer John Blackwell Jr. passed the way peacefully in my company today. Thanks God for his life and thanks everyone for their support.”
Raised in South Carolina, Blackwell was noted as a master drummer from an early age, landing his first professional gig playing with jazz legend Billy Epstein at the age of 17. After appearing on Patti LaBelle’s Grammy winning 1998 album Live! One Night Only, Blackwell was introduced to Prince, who invited him to drum in The New Power Generation, performing onstage and recordings with him until 2012.
More recently Blackwell was a part of D’Angelo's The Vanguard band and played with Justin Timberlake and Bootsy Collins. He was 43 years old.