Thursday, April 26, 2018
News Roundup

John Blackwell Jr., Prince's former drummer, dies at 43 in Tampa

TAMPA — One of Prince's drummers, 43-year-old John Blackwell Jr., has died in Tampa.

The Tampa-based Blackwell was Prince's drummer for more than a decade, starting in 2000.

Blackwell's wife, Yaritza Blackwell, said in a post Tuesday on his official Instagram account that he died "peacefully" in her company. She thanked God for his life and his fans for their support.

According to the post, she said Blackwell was diagnosed with brain tumors last year while performing at a jazz venue, the Blue Note Tokyo, in Japan.

The Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office did not respond to a message seeking confirmation of Blackwell's death.

A Go Fund Me account set up by his wife said Blackwell was in the process of getting tested for "what the doctors think may be tumors in his brain." The fund, set up about four months ago, had raised about $79,000.

In a 2016 interview with 10News WTSP, Blackwell spoke from his bed at Tampa General Hospital after undergoing surgery for the tumors.

The drummer said Prince was like a father to him, and had recruited him hard when they first met.

He joked around then, saying Prince probably needed him in his band in heaven.

"I can hear Prince now, saying 'Oh, I'll just call John,' " Blackwell said to the camera with a smile.

On Tuesday, stars and musicians paid tribute to Blackwell on social media.

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