John Blackwell Jr, longtime Prince drummer, dies aged 43

(Image: © John Blackwell Jr instagram)

John Blackwell Jr, the virtuoso drummer who played with Prince for more than a decade, has died in Florida at the tragically young age of 43. 

Blackwell's wife Yaritza shared the news on Blackwell's instagram account.

"My husband incredible drummer John Blackwell Jr. passed the way peacefully in my company today," read the short statement. "Thanks God for his life and thanks everyone for their support."

A talented musician from an early age, Blackwell played with Patti LaBelle in the late ‘90s, a gig that led to him becoming Prince’s drummer in 2000. He retained the position for 12 years, and also toured with Justin Timberlake in 2006. In 2015, he picked up the sticks for D’Angelo as a member of his band The Vanguard.

Musicians have been quick to pay tribute to Blackwell, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2016. You can read a selection of their comments below.

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

A photo posted by @johnblackwelljr on Jul 4, 2017 at 10:28am PDT

Brother John.....brother john.

A photo posted by @questlove on Jul 4, 2017 at 1:12pm PDT

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