Friday, December 31, 2010
I used to work as a concierge at an apartment complex. I loved my residents and many of them became like family to me. There was one man in particular that stood out to me. His name was John. John worked at BellSouth and always drove his truck home. Many times on his way up to his apartment he'd stop and say hello. There were times that John and I would talk for hours on end. Literally. He'd stand for nearly my whole shift as we laughed and talked about music.
John was a drummer and taught his son drumming. His son is now one of the world's most renowned drummers, John Blackwell Jr. Junior had played for Gladys Knight, Prince, and from what I just read on the internet, he still plays with Prince at times, but now plays with Maze and Frankie Beverly. John Sr. Was always really charming and a total gentleman. He wanted me to meet his son, but the day he was in town, I had a scheduling conflict. He'd tell me hilarious stories about his childhood and his brother Ernest he told me fascinating things about his whole family.
I regretted not staying in touch with him after I left and I even tried a few times to find him. I never succeeded. But I did manage to get news through a friend of mine that was a drummer who followed John Jr. He told me that Jr.'s daughter (Sr.'s grand daughter), Jia had died after a freak drowning in Chicago. My heart ached for him and again, to no avail, I tried to find him, hoping he'd still lived in Atlanta.
Last night, while hanging with my friend, Greg (the drummer) I learned that John Sr. had died. I'm not sure what the cause was, but I know that he'd had a few heart attacks previously. He was only 61 years old. Funny enough, the older I get, the younger 61 sounds. Especially when it's someone as full of life as John. We used to talk about our favorite singers and we shared a love of the Temptations. He told me that he once listened to "You're My Everything" by the Temps the whole way from South Carolina back to Atlanta. He told me the artists that he'd played with and spoke so highly of his son.
I don't know, I guess I thought I had so much more time to find John and reconnect. I was even thinking a few days ago that I may actually make it to the New Year without losing anyone that I knew. That would have been a first since I was 14 years old. I guess I was wrong. I just sent John Jr. a message, expressing my condolences, sharing my experience with his father, and telling him that I'd love to meet, as his father had suggested before. Who knows if he'll get my message. But regardless, John Blackwell Sr. was a hell of a person, full of love, life, and energy. He will be missed.
Rest in Peace, John.