John Blackwell Jr., Former Drummer for Prince, Has Died at Age 43

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John Blackwell Jr. Photo: Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic

John Blackwell Jr., the former drummer for Prince, died Tuesday at age 43 after battling complications from brain tumors for more than a year. Blackwell Jr. is best known for his association with Prince, having served as a drummer for the musical icon’s New Power Generation for 15 years. He gained notoriety over that time period, developing a reputation as a master drummer and eventually performing with the likes of Justin Timberlake, Patti LaBelle, and Cameo. He then joined the Vanguard, D’Angelo’s backing band, in 2015, for the singer’s Second Coming Tour in Europe. Blackwell Jr. is survived by his wife, Yaritza, who first broke the news of her husband’s death on his Instagram account, with a picture of his hand being held in the hospital. “My husband incredible drummer John Blackwell Jr. passed the way peacefully in my company today,” she wrote. “Thanks God for his life and thanks everyone for their support.”

Former Prince Drummer John Blackwell Jr. Dead at 43