Fans are in mourning this week after John Blackwell Jr., who was the late singer Prince’s drummer for 15 years, died on Tuesday. He was only 43 years-old.
Daily Mail reported that Blackwell had been battling brain tumors for about a year before his death. He “passed [away] peacefully” with his beloved wife Yaritza Blackwell by his side. She took to Instagram to announce her husband’s death.
“My husband incredible drummer John Blackwell Jr. passed the way peacefully in my company today,” Yaritza wrote. “Thanks God for his life and thanks everyone for their support.”
Blackwell, who was born in South Carolina, tragically lost the use of his left arm and leg while performing in Japan. He then underwent two brain surgeries and extensive rehabilitation at Tampa General Hospital.
“I get lazy as everybody knows,” Blackwell said last August of his recovery. “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 [physical] therapy.’”
He added that he could hear the late Prince calling him to heaven to join his celestial band, saying, “‘I’ll just call John.’ I said, ‘No you ain’t! I don’t want to do that gig! Not yet.’”
During his long career, Blackwell also performed with the likes of Patti LaBelle, Justin Timberlake, D’Angelo, and Utada Hikaru.
Rest in peace, John Blackwell Jr!