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John Blackwell Jr., former drummer for Prince, dead at 43

John Blackwell Jr., former drummer for music icon Prince, died at age 43 in Florida, his wife posted on social media.

The news was shared online Tuesday by his wife Yaritza in a post on Blackwell's Instagram account.

The caption on the photo read: "My husband incredible drummer John Blackwell Jr. passed the way peacefully in my company today. Thanks God for his life and thanks everyone for their support."

Blackwell, who performed with Prince for 15 years, was considered a master drummer and was known for his unique style of drumming, CBS affiliate WLTX-TV in South Carolina reports. Blackwell was a native of Columbia, South Carolina.

The station adds that Blackwell performed with a number of other high profile artists including Patti LaBelle, Justin Timberlake and Cameo.

Last year, Blackwell was told he had two brain tumors while he was on a trip in Japan.

Blackwell's health was again chronicled in an Instagram post saying he faced another challenge earlier this year when he needed to go to a rehab facility.

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 Tuesday.

Blackwell said last fall Prince was like a father figure to him and recruited him to play with him, WLTX reports. One of his last performances was with guitarist Terence Young.

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