Drum Magazine was very saddened to learn on July 4, 2017 of the passing of funk/R&B drummer John Blackwell, who came to worldwide prominence and is best remembered for his work with Prince over a span of 12 years in the 1990s and early 2000s. Blackwell’s wife, Yaritza, announced her husband’s passing on Blackwell’s Twitter and Instagram accounts, and the news rapidly spread through social media and mainstream media websites.
“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. Yaritza”
Prince.org responded on Twitter: “Rest in Peace, John Blackwell. We’ll never, ever forget you. @JohnBlackwellJr – Hope you are somewhere jamming with @Prince again. #RIP”
Former Prince drummer Hannah Welton, who was one of Blackwell’s successors in the band, also Tweeted: “So saddened to hear of the passing of @JohnBlackwellJr. Thank you for sharing your gifts & knowledge with us all. You will be missed. RIP…”
And from drummer Mark Schulman: “RIP John Blackwell @JohnBlackwellJr you will be greatly missed my friend! Love and light to your family! @markyplanet”
Hear John Blackwell tell his own story in the June 2016 video interview conducted by percussionist, clinician, and educator Aldo Mazza, who founded KoSA Music.
In 2014, Drumeo produced a lesson with Blackwell that lasted for one hour and 30 minutes:
Plus, Blackwell’s drumming can be heard in a compilation video posted by Drum Magazine that looks back at Prince’s performances over the years with Sheila E., Michael Bland, John Blackwell, and Hannah Welton.