Prince’s Former Drummer John Blackwell Jr. Dead at 43

| Celebrity
blackwell-jr
(Photo: Twitter / @markyplanet)

John Blackwell Jr., the former drummer of the legendary Prince, has died following a battle with cancer.

Blackwell Jr.’s wife, Yaritza took to social media to share the heartbreaking news of her 43-year-old husband who was known for years as a percussion powerhouse during his 15-year tenure with Prince.

MORE: Watch: Bruno Mars Reveals Rehearsal Footage From Prince 2017 Grammys Tribute

“My husband incredible drummer John Blackwell Jr. passed the way [sic] peacefully in my company today,” she captioned an image of her grasping his hand in those last moments. “Thanks [sic] God for his life and thanks everyone for their support.”

PEOPLE reports that the Florida-based musician was diagnosed with brain tumors last year, which significantly affected the use of his left arm and leg. Shortly after his diagnosis, Tampa Bay’s 10 News reported that he spent a few months in intensive therapy, learning how to walk once again.

“I get lazy as everybody knows. I’ll be like, ‘I don’t want to go,’ but then something tells me in my mind, ‘Hey bro if I’m going to get out of here and get back to the drums…go to your therapy.’”

Family and friends have set up a GoFundMe in his name to help cover the medical expenses while he was unable to work.

Blackwell Jr. took up drums at just 3 years of age, going on to live the dream by playing with Patti LaBelle before joining up with Prince’s band, The New Power Generation in 2000.

The musician was also known to join Justin Timberlake on tour and was reportedly working on a memoir about his on-stage experiences with so many of the artists he was blessed to work with.

Photo credit: Twitter / @frederick96

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Tania Hussain |

Tania Hussain is a native of Toronto and a Hoosier at heart, studying journalism at Ball State University in Indiana. She has a mad love for fine cheese, film, music, and meeting people upon her many travels. When Tania’s not writing at Womanista, she can be found going for long nature runs, rooting for the Indianapolis Colts and St. Louis Cardinals, photographing sights and food, or writing for her online magazine, The Hudsucker. She is also a member of the Indy-based, Society of Professional Journalists—one of the oldest organizations in the U.S. that promotes and represents journalists.