I withheld commenting on here, or anywhere for that matter, when Prince passed because it felt like a very personal thing for me and I wanted to deal with it in my own way.
But now that John Blackwell has passed, I figured I would share a story that involved the both of them.
It was back in 2002 when I saw Prince for the first time, and what also turned out to be my favourite time, on his one nite alone tour. It was shortly after the release of TRC, as many have acknowledged Prince had stretched his musical chops a lot during this time, and Blackwell played a big role in the production of that album, and perhaps his last "masterpiece", and most personal album.
Anyway, brother-in-law was part of the music club, we had such amazing seats, in the orchestra pit, so close, they told us "mind the guitars", which we literally almost tripped over. Enjoyed the amazing show with Prince a foot away from us, enjoying the show with his instrument tech who was tuning and passing the instruments out throughout the show. During Family Name, Prince asked my name, so that he could "change" it, as part of the song. Grabbed my hand when telling me the name change. Amazing show and crazy experience for a 19 year old who idolized Prince for many years. The first time in my life I got to meet one of my heroes.
Anyway, after the show, we are recovering from it all, the place is mostly emptied, we're watching them take down the equipment and stuff. John Blackwell came to us remaining in the orchestra pit, and handed out a couple sets of drumsticks. He offered me a pair, and I reached for it, but a taller guy rudely grabbed at them first. He actually lifted them out of the way, and gave me another chance to have them, but the other guy managed to snatch them the second time around. John looked quite annoyed by this, then he went over to Prince's mic stand, grabbed a guitar pick with
"Prince" emblazoned on it, and gave that to me. That remains in my box set of ONA Live to this day.
It was a really nice gesture. He was an amazing drummer, and a huge part of Prince's sound during that era.
I saw him and Renato a second time, at the Rio in Vegas in 2007, sitting at a bar after a show finished. I wanted to go up to them and thank them for the show, but I was a little shy and felt they probably didn't want to be bothered. After the fact, I wish I had introduced myself.
RIP Mr. Blackwell.
"Knowledge is preferable to ignorance. Better by far to embrace the hard truth than a reassuring faith. If we crave some cosmic purpose, then let us find ourselves a worthy goal" - Carl Sagan