One of Prince’s former drummers, John Blackwell Jr., is dead at age 43 after a fight with brain tumors.
“My husband incredible drummer John Blackwell Jr. passed the way peacefully in my company today,” announced his wife, Yaritza Cambero, on Instagram Wednesday, July 4.
In previous posts, she said he was diagnosed with brain tumors last February while they were on tour in Japan. He had just finished a show at the Blue Note jazz club in Tokyo when he complained of having pains in his head. They checked him into a hospital, and that is when they discovered he had tumors in his brain.
One year ago, my husband, incredible drummer John Blackwell Jr. was diagnosed with brain tumors while in Japan playing at the Blue Note Tokyo in a featuring with top bassist Nik West. This whole year has been very challenging not only for John, but for me also, that have to provide the care he needs, and with the help of God, you as donors, and his doctors, nurses and therapists he is still fighting hard to get better. Today, he faces another hospital change, now to a rehab facility, where he will receive Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapies to continue his long recovery process. I want to give special thanks to my mother, that for three months has been next to me everyday taking care of me and John, his friends John Spinelli, Tim Conwell, Bruce Harris and Takuya Futaesaku -Takki- and everyone who has visited him including his family, my family and his drummers friends Gregg Bissonette, Dennis Chambers, Antonio Sánchez, Billy Cobham, Chad Smith, Natalie Depergola, Connor Fass, Eric from Tampa, and musician Joe Cosas, just to name a few. I pray God for John everyday, every hour… and thank you for your prayers, donations and for the good thoughts for John. Yaritza
He was left handed, and he lost the use of his left hand shortly after being admitted, Cambero wrote.
She started a GoFundMe campaign on July 1 with a goal of raising $100,000 for his medical care. As of July 5, $80,185 had been pledged.
Just five days before his death, she and others seemed to think he was getting better.
“Today, he faces another hospital change, now to a rehab facility, where he will receive Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapies to continue his long recovery process,” she wrote.
Blackwell Jr. had been a drummer for Prince for 15 years before the performer died last April of a fentanyl overdose.
Yaritza wrote that her husband saw Prince as a father figure and was very upset by his death.
A photo posted to Blackwell Jr.’s Instagram shows a white board with “One thing you should know about me” written at the top. Underneath it says “I was Prince’s drummer.”
Tampa Bay’s 10 News reported last August that Blackwell Jr. was writing a book about his time with Prince, Justin Timberlake, and Patti LaBelle, among others.