John Blackwell Jr., an acclaimed drummer who played alongside Prince for over a decade, has died at 43.
A cause of death was not officially announced, but Blackwell was diagnosed with brain tumors a year ago.
“My husband incredible drummer John Blackwell Jr. passed the way peacefully in my company today,” his wife Yaritza wrote in an Instagram post shared to Blackwell’s page Tuesday. “Thanks God for his life and thanks everyone for their support.”
Blackwell was hospitalized in Japan last year after experiencing issues using his left arm. When he left the hospital in 2016, his use of each arm was greatly compromised.
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He checked into Tampa General Hospital’s Rehabilitation Center last summer, where he did therapy in an effort to relearn how to walk and in hopes of drumming again.
“I get lazy as everybody knows,” he recalled to Tampa Bay’s 10 News last year. “I’ll be like, ‘I don’t want to go,’ but then something tells me in my mind, ‘Hey bro if I’m going to get out of here and get back to the drums … go to your therapy.'”
His wife chronicled his condition throughout the past year on social media, and a GoFundMe page was set up to help cover his medical bills. It had received more than $ 78,000 as of Tuesday.
Blackwell — whose father also played the drums — first picked up the instrument when he was 3 years old. He achieved considerable success early on, including performing with Patti LaBelle, before teaming up with Prince as a member of the icon’s band The New Power Generation in 2000.
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He drummed with Prince, who died last year, for at least 12 years.
Blackwell’s death was met with an outpouring of tributes from others in the music industry, including fellow percussionist Travis Barker.
“Rest In Peace #JohnBlackwell Your legend will live 4ever,” Barker tweeted. “One of the best to ever pick up drumsticks. Prayers to family and friends.”
Blackwell also performed with Justin Timberlake during his career.
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