R.I.P. New Power Generation drummer John Blackwell, Jr.

(July 4, 2017) -- “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

With that note on Instagram from his wife, we learned today of the sad death of drummer, John Blackwell, Jr., known for his fantastic work as part of Prince’s New Power Generation and later as part of D’Angelo’s backing band, the Vanguard. He was an incredibly young 43.

The Columbia, South Carolina born Blackwell was raised in a musical family, as his father, John Blackwell, Sr., played for many Motown and other R&B greats. By his late teens, the younger Blackwell was attending prestigious Berklee College of Music, leaving early in 1995 to become part of the touring band for Cameo.

(July 4, 2017) -- “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

With that note on Instagram from his wife, we learned today of the sad death of drummer, John Blackwell, Jr., known for his fantastic work as part of Prince’s New Power Generation and later as part of D’Angelo’s backing band, the Vanguard. He was an incredibly young 43.

The Columbia, South Carolina born Blackwell was raised in a musical family, as his father, John Blackwell, Sr., played for many Motown and other R&B greats. By his late teens, the younger Blackwell was attending prestigious Berklee College of Music, leaving early in 1995 to become part of the touring band for Cameo.

It was over the next several years that Blackwell rose to the A-List of drummers, working with Patti LaBelle for several years before hooking up with the Purple One and joining NPG in 2000, a role he kept for a dozen years. Even as he worked with Prince, Blackwell was also called upon by other artists, and over the years he played with Maze, Justin Timberlake, P Diddy and Bootsy Collins. He also released his solo debut album, The John Blackwell Project.

Though John Blackwell, Jr. had been ill for a period, he remained front of mind for many in the musical world this year, who were praying for his recovery. But, in death, his legacy of musical greatness will stand on. Rest in peace.

 
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