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Thread started 03/06/02 7:16am


Live daily interview with John Blackwell

Ben, I don't think I've seen this posted. This interview with Blackwell covers the meeting of Blackwell with LG and Prince as has been reported numerous times. However, there are tidbits on the recording of "The Rainbow Children" and specifically "Everywhere." Good read if it is new.

LiveDaily Interview: Drummer John Blackwell, of Prince's band
by Don Zulaica
LiveDaily Contributing Writer,
FEB. 19, 3:54 P.M. ET

{{{John Blackwell, Prince's phenomenal 28-year-old drummer, grew up in South Carolina, the son of John Blackwell Sr., a drummer with a groove so deep he was called "Pocket Man."}}}

"When I turned two, my father would wake me up and tell me to come to the living room with him at 6 or 7 in the morning," he recounts. "And he would make me sit down and watch him play drums. He would play for hours, every day, and I would watch him. And after he was done he would give me the sticks, and he would leave the room so I could discover the drums for myself. Instead of telling me, 'Play this,' or 'play that,' he'd let me do it by myself. The first beat I ever played, before anybody ever told me anything, was 'Brick House.'"

Before coming into the Prince fold, the Blackwell spent time playing with Patti Labelle, Billy Eckstine, and Cameo, and he attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Prince's latest album, "The Rainbow Children," came out in November of 2001. Blackwell spoke with LiveDaily about the record, as well as landing the gig with the enigmatic musician.

LiveDaily: Tell me about the Patti Labelle concert where you met Prince and Larry Graham [of Graham Central Station, and Prince's current bassist], the one that led to your audition for Prince's band.

John Blackwell: That took place during the Patti Labelle/Chaka Khan tour of '99. The first show with Patti was in Minneapolis, and of course on the opening night, I was pretty much ready to come on stage--the first hit, you just want to go out there and blow everybody away. I wanted to do what I do on drums, and back Patti up, make her sound good. I was so into what I was doing with Patti on stage, I kind of blocked everybody out, anybody who was around the stage. I was aware that Prince or Larry Graham could have been in the building that night, but being in the zone I was in, I didn't let that distract me. Because if I had let that get to me, I probably wouldn't be on Prince's gig right now. I would have tried to showboat or whatever.

And Prince would have known that in a second.

Yeah. So I just blocked everybody out. And of course, they were watching me from the side, but I didn't know because it was so dark couldn't see who it was. So I was just doing what comes naturally.

So the show ends...

I was going to go back to my dressing room, and the next thing you know, Larry Graham comes running over to me and goes, "Oh man, I feel a connection between you and me. Give me your card, please stay in touch." Prince came to me afterwards and said, "You're unbelievable. I'll see you soon." And I was thinking to myself, see you soon? How is he going to see me soon? He doesn't even have my number! [laughs] Little did I know it, of course him and Larry Graham were together, so I kept in contact with Larry. So through Larry, I got invited to Paisley [Park Studios, Prince's Minnesota compound] to jam. They flew me up there when my tour was over, like in September of '99. And I came up and jammed for one day. It was like a dream come true, for me, and actually like a dream. There's me and Larry Graham and Prince, playing. That was an honor--it's still an honor.

And from there you kept getting invited back to jam, and eventually landed the gig. Tell me something about putting together the last album with Prince, "The Rainbow Children."

There was a beat I came up with, for a song called "Everywhere." I was just checking my drums, and the engineer was trying to get a good miking of everything at that moment. And they said, "Okay, snare drum," whatever, "we've got everything miked. Now play everything so we can get a good mix." So I'm just messing around playing some beats, and I did a fast, Latin-type of beat that you would hear Dennis Chambers or Billy Cobham play. They were like, "Man. Keep that going." And I came into the studio the next day and it's a song. It's got vocals in the background, and it was beautiful. I had no idea what it was going to be.

Do the tragedies of Sept. 11 make you think about your future in music, touring with Prince, traveling on planes or whatever? How have you dealt with this?

I mean, I know who created me. I know who my savior is--Jehovah--and I'm learning Him, and getting closer to Him, if I keep on that path, flying or whatever, it doesn't really bother me. I know where I'm going.

Of course, my heart goes out to all the people, everyone--the ones on the plane, the ones at the World Trade Center, that was something that should not ever happen. That was very tragic, but it does not stop me from doing what I do. I mean, that's why music is important. Music brings people together, it always has.

Sounds like words of wisdom from your father.

My dad was the most important...of anybody, and still is. No matter how much older I get, he has something to share with me, a life lesson or a lesson in music.
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Reply #1 posted 03/06/02 8:40am



Jehovah! here we go...
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Reply #2 posted 03/06/02 8:52am


The drumming on "Everywhere" is phenomenal....that drumming on that one song alone deserves to give TRC 2 1/2 stars out of 5...

...and here comes the edit statement...
[This message was edited Wed Mar 6 8:53:24 PST 2002 by wellbeyond]
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Reply #3 posted 03/06/02 11:17am



5 stars out of 5
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Reply #4 posted 03/06/02 1:00pm


blackwell is really a great drummer, and a pretty cool person it seems...i hope prince keeps him around for a long time to come.....
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Reply #5 posted 03/06/02 5:36pm



Blackwell is an incredible drummer, one of the best Prince has ever had.
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Reply #6 posted 03/06/02 7:20pm



SquirrelMeat said:

Jehovah! here we go...

- Jehovah (God) is the best. I am glad that John is in a good
Gustavo Ribas
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Reply #7 posted 03/07/02 4:35am


"When I turned two, my father would wake me up and tell me to come to the living room with him at 6 or 7 in the morning," he recounts. "And he would make me sit down and watch him play drums."

Blimey, glad I didn't live next door to them - drums at 6:00am!! smile
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Reply #8 posted 03/07/02 7:12am


Gustavo !!

Now I think u're happy with "The Drummer " John Blackwell, or not ?? let me know !!
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Reply #9 posted 03/08/02 7:55am


It fills my heart with joy to know that John Blackwell is gaining accurate knowledge of the Father(Jehovah) and his Son(Jesus Christ). My prayers go out in behalf of all seekers of truth. My hope is, also, that the seeds of truth planted in the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy to those affected directly or indirectly by the events are watered and grow so as to provide a real and lasting hope for their future in accordance with God's will for all who love Him. Keep up the good work, John.
For more info on the beliefs and activities of Jehovah's Witnesses around the world in 234 lands see
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Reply #10 posted 03/08/02 8:49am


Shit man, they all are going zzzz in Paisley Pee! ...jehova witness as well huh... damnfunny! the world goes into war because of people believing, that's what i think sometimes... the more one gets into his believes, the less he/she leaves room for participation in the freethinking & living in this world. how onearth can one believe? i neverunderstood that. Now, of caurse i know that it's good for some poepl who need a hold on in life, but i'm not talking about those good souls. i mean people like prince, michael jackson... how come they live such a closed life? why does prince behave like aprince all the time, also to the people around him? he's like, if u don't like my shit, u're fired. At least that's the idea i get from interviews with former employees and musicians.
come on... people try to face it that there's only one life and no god(s). The idea of a god or more gods/godessess is from 2000 year ago, when it was still acurate. Nowadays we know a little more... shit i'm gonna get asskicked for this post right here and now, i feel it comming! wink))))
There's only one life, and it's this one! make the best of it NOW, and forget about something you don't know a damn thing about! ;o))) I have all the answers, i know it ALL! haha wink)))) NOT. But, i never felt the need when feeling sad or bad or alone or angry or any shit at all, to hook up with a god or anything like that. if there's wisdom to be said/spoken by any religious leader, i think it should be the Dalai Lama. that guy at least is not selling anything, doesn't convince people to believe in somthing, and makes the best of life in everyway. I love that guy's humor. He's pretty ok and nuts as well. Met him once, good guy, realy. Pretty down to earth, and he tels you that he doesn't know all the answers to everything, and that he's also a lot of the time dealing with anger, fear, lonelyness, stress longings or whatever. He gives u the feelingof being more human thatn anything else. Neat! Ok, they believe in a kind of incarnation, but then again, they don't stuck it up your throat, or dicuss with you all day about this and that. you know why people swear? because it's better than holding it back, keeping it all up. I'm not telling it's the best way to let things go or to get rid of frustrations, but it certainly is 'a' way, just like very other way we all know and use. Swearing isn't swearing when u say someone's name who doesn' excist. With "motherfucker" i agree, it's not necessary to use it, but a mother can be anything. It's the way u use it ad in which circumstance.
Bob George still is good fun. Try to see the humor of things, and do not talk about those unimportant details of used words. When the actual meaning of it all is to laugh and try to put things in perspective.
...which i think is more important than the so called indept sight by people who study just one book. Goddamnshitcocksuckergood y'all! That's what i say. But i love Larry and Prince and John just the same. wink))))
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Reply #11 posted 03/08/02 8:55am


I wish there would be more info on the way songs are written, and get developped like this. I just love the little info that was in the Crystal Ball booklet, or in the Greatest Hits text by Aalan Leeds. That's what i as a fan would love to read. Can't Prince just write something about what he does in the recording studio to his fans? Or maybe give the job to an engineer. That would even be better and keep it a bit mysterious. wink))
i love info on recording and recordingsessions like oon the Radiohead website, and on the Ruyichi Sakamoto website. Those guys all do it themselves, and believe me. It is thrilling when u read about a song getting recorde, and after a year or so uhear it on record, and remeber what u wrote that time ago... trying to hear the sound in your head,and then actually hear what it was all about.
...better read the damn good book by per nilsen again now! wink
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