Through an Instagram post made by his wife Yaritza Blackwell, we have learned that drummer John Blackwell Jr. has died at age 43. “My husband incredible drummer John Blackwell Jr. passed the way peacefully in my company today,” she wrote. “Thanks God for his life and thanks everyone for their support.” In a post from earlier this week, she said that Blackwell had been diagnosed with brain tumors while in Japan last year, and that he was being relocated to a rehabilitation facility to “continue his long recovery process.”
Born in 1973 in Columbia, South Carolina, Blackwell learned to play drums at a young age from his father who was also a drummer, who played with King Curtis, Mary Wells, J.J. Jackson, among many others. After moving to Los Angeles in 1998 to look for more drumming work, he got a job playing with Patti Labelle, whom he performed with for three years. In the year 2000, during a tour stop in Minneapolis, Blackwell met recording artist Prince and joined his band The New Power Generation, whom he performed with for over twelve years. During his career, he also toured with Justin Timberlake, D’Angelo, Bootsy Collins, and more.
A GoFundMe page was set up to help cover his medical bills that reached more than $78,000 in donations as of Tuesday.