Tampa, Florida (WTSP) -- One of Prince's former drummers--who's also a Columbia native--is trying to get his rhythm back. He's trying to beat a life-changing health scare.
John Blackwell, Jr. performed with Prince for 15 years. With a sharp hat on his head and decked out in a snazzy suit Blackwell is considered a master drummer and is known for his unique style of drumming. These days he plays all over the world but that music came to an abrupt stop recently.
"I got to Japan and this." He picks up his lifeless left hand and then drops it and adds, "And this left leg just dropped out on me."
Blackwell is now recovering at Tampa General Hospital's Rehabilitation Center. He's had to put down his drumsticks after major surgery and describes what the surgeon had to do.
"He basically took out a part of the brain where the tumors were."
Blackwell now spends his days now just learning how to walk again. "I was like, impossible. How did this happen?"
With his wife Yaritza and friend, John, who is also a drummer by his side, Blackwell knows the therapy he's scheduled to do each day could make all the difference in whether he picks up his drumsticks again.
"I get lazy as everybody knows. I'll be like, 'I don't want to go,' but then something tells me in my mind, 'Hey bro if I'm going to get out of here and get back to the drums ... go to your therapy.'"
Blackwell says Prince was like a father figure to him and recruited him to play with him. He says a dear friend recently told him that he can just imagine Prince calling for him to play even in heaven. Blackwell laughed saying, "I can hear Prince now say 'I'll just call John.' No you ain't! I don't want to do that gig. Not yet."
Meanwhile, Blackwell says he's going to fight hard to get back in the drummers seat because he's just not ready to give up on his love of drumming.
John has medical insurance but isn't able to earn a living when he's not playing so a special GoFundMe account has been set up for him to accept donations. John is also in the process of writing a book about his time performing not only with Prince, but Justin Timberlake and Patty LaBelle just to name a few.