John Blackwell, Jr. and Prince

John Blackwell, Jr. and Prince

*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.