On July 1st news broke that Prince drummer John Blackwell had fallen ill when he arrived in Japan.
This is an urgent call to all drummers! One of our fallen brothers needs our help.
We all know John from his 15 year run as Prince’s drummer. As well as other artists such as Justin Timberlake and Patty LaBelle. When John got to Japan he had lost the ability to use his left arm and leg. (Pretty vital for us drummers!) Upon doctors analysis, they learned brain tumors were the cause of the paralysis. He underwent treatment in Japan and flew home about a week later to continue treatment here in the states.
It really broke my heart when I first heard this news at the beginning of the month. John Blackwell is known for being one of the nicest guys in the drum community. He always comes across as humble considering his amazing prowess on the drums. I once heard John described as one of the sweetest, gentlest people on the planet. What makes this story even more unbearable is the fact that this is the second time that Blackwell has had to go through personal tragedy. Back in June of 2004, John lost his 27-month-old daughter Jia in a terrible accident. It makes me shake my head that a man with such a big heart would have to endure such heartache.
But now for some good news in this story! John has gone through surgery to remove the tumors found in his brain and is now on the road to recovery. It will, however, be a long road. He will have a lot of therapy to go through and at this time it seems he is re-learning how to walk. John is using drumming as his inspiration to get through the grueling work. He knows that if he’s lazy now he may never be able to get back to the drums. Now that’s some determination and we are all cheering for you, John! As some of you have probably seen there is a GoFundMe page for the Blackwell family to aid with the mounting health care bills. John does have health insurance. But we all know the out of pocket costs are still staggering. Plus, John will be out of work for quite some time as he recovers so that can definitely hurt on the income side of things. We can’t stress enough how important it is to give back to a man who has given so much to the drum community.
So as I finish this blog post I would like to close with one of my favorite quotes about John Blackwell‘s playing. It comes from current Jeff Beck bass player Rhonda Smith, who was also a longtime bassist for Prince. “ John is like a walking, talking back catalog. You can name a song and he’ll play you the beat…And it’s the right beat, and it’s solid and kicking. That’s Johnny. He loves music and loves what he does, and you can tell. He brings something a little extra special to the table that not all drummers do, and he looks real natural when he does it. It blows people’s minds.” Get well John! We here at Drummers I Like look forward to seeing you back behind the throne!