Uptown Records founder Andre Harrell has reportedly died. New reports claim the music executive passed away this week at the age of 59.
According to reports, the news started to spread last night courtesy of producer DJ D-Nice. Media outlets have since confirmed the tragic news.
Andre Harrell, a veteran music executive best known as the founder of Uptown Records, where Sean “Puffy” Combs got his start in the business, who later went on to head Motown Records, has died. He was 59. The cause of death is as yet unclear. DJ D-Nice revealed the sad news while spinning on Instagram Live for his popular Club Quarantine series Friday night (May 8). Variety has yet to receive official word though sources have confirmed Harrell’s passing. (Variety)
The Music Biz Reacts
Over the past few hours, various music stars have come forward to react. Everyone from Mariah Carey to Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons have paid respect to Andre’s legacy.
“I am deeply saddend by the loss of my good friend @andreharrell – Andre has been a blessing to so many, including myself. It is with a heavy heart that I post this photo of us a few years ago. A truly gifted and brilliant impressario of the highest calibre. Andre, you will be missed. Love and blessings to Gianni and your family.” -LA Reid’s Instagram
Wait, There’s More
Andre is most known for helping put on various music pioneers throughout the 80’s and 90’s. Harrell is also responsible for putting music icon Diddy into the biz.
Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, later to be known as Diddy, started off as Uptown as an intern of Harrell’s, and eventually worked there full-time as a talent director, where he helped develop ’90s R&B megastars like Mary J. Blige and Jodeci, even producing the popular “Hip-Hop Remix” of the latter’s 1992 hit “Come and Talk to Me.” (Harrell fired him from Uptown in 1993, leading to Combs starting the epochal Bad Boy label with friend The Notorious B.I.G. as his marquee artist, but the relationship remained amicable: “I knew it was time for him to grow,” he explained to the Wall Street Journal in 2014.) (Billboard)
Before You Go
Throughout the years, both Harrell and Combs have stayed in contact. In addition to maintaining a friendship, they both shared a working relationship.
Harrell would later find a home for Uptown at MCA productions where he developed multiple projects in film and television in the 1990s including the movie and soundtrack “Strictly Business.” In 1995, he went on to run Motown Records as CEO. Through that era, the label was home such acts as Boyz II Men, Jodeci and Al B. Sure. Harrell and Combs remained longtime friends and business associates and Harrell served as vice chairman of Revolt, Combs’ multi-platform music network, and a producer on its panel show “State of the Culture.” (New York Post)