RIP John Blackwell Jr
Former Prince drummer passes
As Rhythm went to press, the tragic news came through that John Blackwell Jr had passed away
Blackwell, who was best known for his successful association with Prince, was just 43 years old.
His wife ,Yaritza, broke the news on social media, saying: “My husband incredible drummer John Blackwell Jr. passed the way peacefully in my company today .Thanks God for his life and thanks everyone for their support.”
The drummer had previously fallen ill during a trip to Japan in 2016 after which he was diagnosed with two brain tumours.
Born on 9September 1973 in South Carolina, Blackwell came to prominence thanks to gigs with Cameo and Patti LaBelle in the mid- and late-’90s respectively. However, it was when he landed the role behind the kit with Prince in 2000 that he made an indelible mark on the drum world.
As well as his 12-year association with the Purple One, Blackwell performed with the likes of Justin Timberlake, P Diddy, Bootsy Collins and D’Angelo.
An array of drum stars, including Travis Barker ■ and Sheila E, were quick to pay tribute to Blackwell on social media following the announcement of his passing. Rhythm would like to add to these by saying that our last experience of Blackwell came during ■ the 2012 Buddy Rich Memorial Concert held at the London Palladium.On that night he performed alongside the likes of Dave Weckl, Ginger Baker, Ian Paice and Gavin Harrison.
On the night he humbly told us, “I’m honoured to ■ be among greatness tonight .I’m not great, but I ’m among greatness. ”After watching that night’s performance of ‘Ruth’, ‘Mexicali Noise’ and ‘Pick Up The Pieces’ we were left in no doubt that despite his earlier protests, Blackwell very much belonged with the greats of drumming. Reflecting on that night and his overall body of work, we realise what a huge hole his passing leaves in the drum world.