*John Blackwell Jr., the respected percussionist best known for his 15-year tenure with Prince, has died after battling cancer. He was 43 years old.
His wife Yaritza shared the news on Tuesday with a photo posted to Blackwell’s Instagram.
“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. “Thanks [sic] God for his life and thanks everyone for their support.”
The Florida based drummer was diagnosed with brain tumors in 2016, which dramatically effected the use of his left arm and leg, according to People.com. Last summer he spent time in the Tampa General Hospital’s Rehabilitation Center enrolled in intensive therapy to learn how to walk once again. A GoFundMe page had been launched in his name to help cover medical expenses while he was unable to work.
After taking up drums at just 3 years old, Blackwell played with Patti LaBelle before joining Prince’s band, The New Power Generation in 2000. He also performed with Justin Timberlake. He had reportedly been working on a book about his experiences on the stage.
Tributes from fellow musicians and admirers began to appear on social media soon after his death was announced.
We lost another brother… John Blackwell made his transition today!!!
Our prayers go out to his wife and family! https://t.co/bWUgRBQql4
— Morris Day (@TheMorrisDay) July 4, 2017
My beautiful friend John Blackwell passed away 2day Plz keep his family in prayer. He was amazing manLuv u my brother pic.twitter.com/X08DYf7MJO
— SheilaEdrummer (@SheilaEdrummer) July 4, 2017
Rest In Peace #JohnBlackwell Your legend will live 4ever. One of the best to ever pick up drumsticks. Prayers to family and friends 🥁🙏🏻
— Travis Barker (@travisbarker) July 4, 2017
— Nik West (@Nikwestbass) July 4, 2017