John Blackwell Jr., former drummer for Prince, dead at 43

By Wade Sheridan  |  July 5, 2017 at 6:40 AM
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July 5 (UPI) -- John Blackwell Jr., a former drummer for Prince and other famous musicians, has died at the age of 43 following a battle with cancer.

Blackwell's wife Yaritza announced his death on the drummer's Instagram page Tuesday alongside a photo of the couple holding hands.

"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," she wrote.

Blackwell was diagnosed with brain tumors in 2016. A GoFundMe page was set up in his name to help cover his medical expenses.

Blackwell is best known for performing with Prince as part of the singers band, The New Power Generation starting in 2000. He appeared on two Prince releases, 2003's instrumental N.E.W.S. album and the Live at the Aladdin Las Vegas DVD.

Before joining Prince, Blackwell was a drummer for Patti LaBelle and appeared on her 1998 release, Live! One Night Only. Blackwell also toured with Justin Timberlake in 2006.

A number of musicians have paid tribute to Blackwell on Twitter, including Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker, who wrote, "Rest In Peace #JohnBlackwell Your legend will live 4ever. One of the best to ever pick up drumsticks. Prayers to family and friends."

"We lost another brother... John Blackwell made his transition today!!! Our prayers go out to his wife and family!" added Morris Day who was also a member of The New Power Generation.

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