Fans of D’Angelo’s latest LP, Black Messiah, will be sad to learn of John Blackwell Jr.’s passing at just 43 years of age. Blackwell Jr. was a seasoned touring drummer for the likes of Justin Timberlake, and was perhaps most notably part of Prince’s post-millennium band, The New Power Generation, in addition to his work as part of The Vanguard.

As Fact reports: “According to a statement from Blackwell Jr.’s wife Yaritza, he passed away “peacefully in my company today” (July 4). He had been diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2016.”    

Blackwell Jr. was born in Columbia, SC in 1973, and first began drumming for Patti LaBelle in 1998, preceding his move to Prince’s band in 2000.

Owen Jones

Read Next: Top of the shops – Rough Trade West London