Prince drummer John Blackwell Jr. has died at the age of 43

Sticksman also performed with Justin Timberlake

Prince‘s former drummer John Blackwell Jr. has died at the age of 43.

The longtime sticksman performed in the late singer’s band The New Power Generation for 15 years.

He also played with a number of other high profile artists including Patti LaBelle, Justin Timberlake and Cameo.

His wife Yaritza announced his passing in a post on the drummer’s Instagram account. She wrote: “My husband incredible drummer John Blackwell Jr. passed the way peacefully in my company today (July 4). Thanks God for his life and thanks everyone for their support.”

She also revealed that he had been battling two brain tumours over the last year.

Born in Columbia, South Carolina in 1973, Blackwell Jr. started drumming for soul legend Patti LaBelle in 1998, before joining Prince’s band in 2000.

He also toured with Justin Timberlake on his 2006 FutureSex/LoveSounds tour and was a member of D’Angelo’s band the Vanguard.

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

A post shared by John Blackwell (@johnblackwelljr) on

A GoFundMe page was set up to help cover his medical bills that reached more than $78,000 in donations as of yesterday.

Meanwhile, Nile Rodgers recently revealed that he scrapped a song he had written about Prince for the forthcoming Chic album as “it felt wrong” to include it following the artist’s death last year.

The founder of Chic is gearing up to release the band’s first album in 25 years later this year with ‘It’s About Time’. It’ll be their first full-length record since 1992’s ‘Chic-ism’.

Speaking about the new release, Rodgers said that one provisional track on the album had the working title ‘Prince Said It’, which was about the “conversations” he’d had with the late artist.

“From the time that I started to work on this album, a lot of heavy things have happened,” Rodgers said. “I mean, David Bowie died. Prince died. People who were really, really close to me passed away, and that wasn’t supposed to be part of the narrative. The narrative was about working with these people – about having good times with them, you know?