Former Urge Overkill drummer Blackie Onassis dead at 57

Blackie Onassis in 1993
(Image credit: Bob Berg)

Former Urge Overkill drummer John "Blackie Onassis" Rowan has died at the age of 57. The news was confirmed in a social media post from the band.

The statement read: "Urge Overkill is saddened to report that Blackie has passed away. Please respect our privacy at this time. We are sending much love to his family and all his fans. We know he will be missed."

Onassis joined Chicago rockers Urge Overkill in 1991 in time for their third album, The Supersonic Storybook, and would go on to play on 1993's classic Saturation – by which time the band had landed a major deal with Geffen Records – and Exit the Dragon, released two years later. 

The band were best known for their much-loved version of Neil Diamond's Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon, which featured on the soundtrack of Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, and for the popular Sister Havanah, a song written by the band while on the road in Europe with label-mates Nirvana.  

Urge Overkill spilt up after the less-than-successful Exit The Dragon, and reformed in 2004 without Onassis, amid rumours that he was battling various addictions.

"I do not actually know the particulars of his situation right now but we do hold the door open in terms of any information," bassist/vocalist Eddie 'King' Roeser told The Chicago Ambassador in 2015. "I’m always curious to how he’s doing."

"The music we made, it was the three of us," added guitarist/vocalist Nash Kato. "That will always live on. He was part of that journey, some of the most exciting chapters in the book of Urge. We’ll always have fond memories."

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.