Watch: Former Prince Drummer Returns to the Midlands

Columbia , S.C. (WOLO) — Former Prince Drummer, John Blackwell, Jr. returned to the midlands this week to attend the Prince tribute in Five Points.

Blackwell is a Columbia native who attended WJ Keenan High School and participated in the schools jazz and marching band.

“You decided you were going to do this and you just did a swan dive straight down and that’s what most of you guys that are successful have in common,” said W.E. Lyles, Blackwell’s former high school band director.

His success led him to work beside one of the worlds greatest music icons.

“To see him in front of me and then to see the audience moving in the crowd like an ocean and you say to yourself, ‘their rockin’ my groove,’ and it’s overwhelming actually,” explained Blackwell.

Blackwell toured with Prince for several years, collaborating on records and developing a friendship that extended beyond the stage they shared.

“When my dad died and my daughter and my mom passed, he was always there for me and he always gave me a lot of personal advice and musical advice,” said Blackwell.

Blackwell said one piece of advice he will never forget is when Prince told him to “respect the music and keep it live.”

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