Long-time drummer for the late artist Prince has died at the age of 43, just over a year after Prince.
His wife Yaritza, informed the world via the drummer’s social media accounts saying that the musician died “peacefully” when she was with him. She added “Thanks God for his life and thanks everyone for their support.”
A long musical history
Blackwell played for Prince since 2000, 15 years of great music together. He was a master in his craft, a percussionist known for his unique style of drumming. He joined Prince’s band New Power Generation just after graduating Berklee College of Music in 2000. He was also known for playing with Patti LaBelle, Justin Timberlake and Cameo.
The drummer was diagnosed with having two brain tumors last year while he was in Japan playing at Blue Note Tokyo, a live jazz venue. He focused all his efforts to survive. In doing so, he lost all feeling in an arm after doctors had removed a piece of his brain when operating on the tumor.
On an interview with Tampa TV Station WTSP-TV, Blackwell told interviewers that Prince was a father figure. He went on to joke that a friend of his said it was as though Prince was calling him to play in heaven.
Blackwell laughed saying, “I can hear Prince now say, ‘I’ll just call John.’ No, you ain’t! I don’t want to do that gig. Not yet.”
Countless musicians have shared tributes for the deceased drummer on twitter, including the likes of Travis Barker, who said “One of the best to ever pick up drumsticks.”
Morris Day, another one of Prince’s colleagues, said “We lost another brother.”
And Sheila E, Prince’s Protégé, shared, “Plz keep his family in prayer. He was an amazing man.”