|John grew up in Columbia, South Carolina and started playing drums at age 3, learning from his father John Blackwell Sr, a drummer himself, who played with artists such as Mary Wells, King Curtis, Joe Simon, J.J. Jackson, The Drifters and many others.
As a teenager, John played in high school marching and jazz bands.
He played in jazz clubs from age 13 until he graduated from high school.
At 17, he played his first big high profile show with singer and swing bandleader Billy Eckstine.
After high school, he attended Berklee College of Music, graduating in 1995.
From 1995 until present, John has played with many successful pop, funk, hip-hop, jazz and fusion stars, including Prince, Justin Timberlake, Cameo, Patti LaBelle, Utada Hikaru, Crystal Kay, P Diddy and Charlie Singleton.
He played at the 2008 and 2011 Buddy Rich Memorial Concert.
He released his debut album in December 2009, called The John Blackwell Project.
He has two educational drum DVDs. The first is two-disc set entitled "John Blackwell-Technique, Grooving and Showmanship" the second is self-titled "John Blackwell" and is part of the Hudson Music Masters Series.
He has endorsements from Tama Drums and Zildjian cymbals and sticks. After a long co-operation with Sabian and Vater, he moved to Zildjian.