Blackwell Jr. was born in Columbia, SC, in 1973, and began his music career drumming for Patti LaBelle in 1998, before joining the New Power Generation in 2000.
Blackwell Jr. also performed with Justin Timberlake during his FutureSex/LoveSounds tour in 2006, and was a member of D'Angelo's backing group the Vanguard.
His wife Yaritza confirmed the news of his death yesterday (July 4), saying he "passed the way peacefully in my company today." She went on, "Thanks God for his life and thanks everyone for their support."
Blackwell Jr. was initially diagnosed with brain tumours in 2016, and a GoFundMe page was set up to support his medical expenses while he was unable to work.
Many from the music community have offered their condolences. Read some of those messages below.
Rest In Peace #JohnBlackwell Your legend will live 4ever. One of the best to ever pick up drumsticks. Prayers to family and friends 🥁🙏🏻— Travis Barker (@travisbarker) July 4, 2017
We lost another brother... John Blackwell made his transition today!!!— Morris Day (@TheMorrisDay) July 4, 2017
Our prayers go out to his wife and family! https://t.co/bWUgRBQql4
My beautiful friend John Blackwell passed away 2day Plz keep his family in prayer. He was amazing manLuv u my brother pic.twitter.com/X08DYf7MJO— SheilaEdrummer (@SheilaEdrummer) July 4, 2017