John Blackwell Jr., longtime drummer for Prince, died Tuesday after being diagnosed with a brain tumor one year ago. He was 43.
His passing was announced on his Instagram page by his wife, Yaritza, who thanked fans and friends for their support.
A native of Columbia, South Carolina and an alumnus of the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Blackwell joined Prince’s band, The New Power Generation, in 2000. The two collaborated for 15 years, during which time Blackwell also performed alongside other pop stars like Justin Timberlake and Patti LaBelle.
Last year, following a performance in Tokyo, Blackwell was diagnosed with two brain tumors and was forced to retire after doctors removed a portion of his brain while removing the tumors, costing him use of his left arm. A GoFundMe page had been started to help Blackwell and his family pay for the treatment and rehab procedures, with the page earning over $80,000 in donations.
Blackwell’s death has been met with tributes from his peers, including Morris Day and Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker. Read some of the tributes below.
#JohnBlackwell legendary drummer for #Prince- THE EPITOME of a heart of gold. A goat in the drummer world. A brother to me. A sidekick on stage to me. A happy person. Pleased by the simple things in life. Food Connoisseur. GROOVE MASTER. NONE LIKE HIM. He passed away today. Exactly one year ago, while on tour together in Japan, we found out he had a tumor. This has left yet another hole in my heart. Today he joins his mother, father, daughter, and Prince (his mentor and the person that was like father to him when his own father passed) in heaven. I'm sending prayers to his wife and everyone else he leaves behind today. I visited him while in the hospital and he opened his eyes and held his drumsticks... I had faith he would get well. But now he has no pain. Please allow a moment of silence for JOHN BLACKWELL! ����#notahappy4thofjuly #alloftheseholes