Honoring the legendary John Blackwell Jr Buddy Rich 25th Anniversary Memorial Concert videos John Blackwell Jr at the Buddy Rich 25th Anniversary Memorial Concert John Blackwell was only 43 years old when he passed away on July 4th. One of the greater drummers of the past 25 years and an inspiration to countless aspiring- and drummers on every level in music. His talent, that let him to playing and recording with Prince for 12 years, being a nominated and winning Grammy Award drummer, and working with artists like Patti LaBelle, Cameo, Justin Timberlake, Bootsy Collins and D'Angelo, put him in the list of legendary drummers in no-time.

John Blackwell Jr at the Buddy Rich Memorial 2012
Drummerszone honors John Blackwell Jr with the videos below from his performance at the Buddy Rich 25th Anniversary Memorial Concert in London in 2012. We had the privilege to be there and record the show from the side of the stage. John simply played the roof off of the London Palladium on April 2, 2012.
Camera note: the first video has footage of John from a handheld camera. The second one had to be on the same spot backstage the whole evening.

John Blackwell Jr played
  • Ruth (The Buddy Rich Big Band)
  • Mexicali Nose (The Buddy Rich Big Band)
  • Pick Up the Pieces (Average White Band)
John Blackwell Jr | excerpt Buddy Rich 25th Anniversary Memorial Concert

John Blackwell Jr | full show Buddy Rich 25th Anniversary Memorial Concert

John Blackwell
Over a year ago, John Blackwell announced he had lost the use of his left arm and leg, and he had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. His wife Yaritza announced his death on Instagram on July 4th, 2017.

John, from Columbia, South Carolina, started playing at the age of 3. A natural step to take when your father is a drummer as well and who has played with The Drifters, The Spinners and even King Curtis. During his three year gig with Patti LaBelle he met Prince, and told Modern Drummer how he got the job with The New Power Generation:
"Prince and Larry Graham, who's been working with Prince, came out to a few shows back when I was with Patti LaBelle. One night after the show Prince came up to me and said, 'My God, you're unbelievable. I'll see you soon.' I thought to myself, How's he going to see me soon? He doesn't even have my number."

To honor John Blackwell Jr, Modern Drummer posted his first cover story in the magazine, from October 2001. Learn more about John by clicking here.

Many drummers, artists, friends and fans, have shared there feelings on John's passing on all media outlets. We've captured a few just to show he was one of the biggest out there, nailing every gig in every situation at the highest level in music possible.

Sheila E.

Mike Portnoy

Franklin Vanderbilt

Michael Schack

Justin Timberlake

Travis Barker

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