Prince’s Former NPG Drummer John Blackwell Jr. Dies at 43
Prince’s former New Power Generation drummer John Blackwell Jr. has passed away in Tampa, Fla., over the holiday weekend. Although a cause of death hasn't been revealed, the famed drummer had been suffering with brain cancer. He was 43.
On Tuesday (July 4), his wife, Yaritza Blackwell, went on his official Instagram page and delivered the sad news to his fans. “My husband incredible drummer John Blackwell Jr. passed the way peacefully in my company today,” she wrote in the photo above. “Thanks God for his life and thanks everyone for their support. Yaritza.”
Blackwell, a graduate from Berklee College of Music, started his drumming career playing for Patti LabBelle and appearing on her Grammy-winning 1998 album, Live! One Night Only. In 2000, Blackwell joined Prince's backing band NPG and toured with the late musician for over a decade.
During his career, Blackwell has performed alongside notable music artists like Cameo, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Bootsy Collins, Justin Timberlake (in support of 2006's FutureSex/LoveSounds) and D'Angelo (as part of acclaimed live backing band the Vanguard), according to Rolling Stone.
A year ago, Blackwell was diagnosed with two brain tumors during a 2016 trip to Japan. Four months ago, a GoFundMe account was set up by his wife to cover Blackwell's medical expenses. The account has raised over $79,000 since Tuesday (July 4). In an Instagram post last week, Yaritza said her husband had been moved to a rehab facility to receive physical, occupational and speech therapies.
We want to send our heartfelt condolences to John Blackwell Jr.'s family and friends. May he rest in peace.