Music Executive and impresario, Andre Harrell has died at the age of 59. His untimely death was announced by DJ D-Nice late Friday, during his Club Quarantine series on Instagram live. Harrell’s cause of death has not been revealed.
— BET (@BET) May 9, 2020
Harrell was born in Harlem and raised in The Bronx, New York. He began his music career as one half of the hip hop duo Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with Alonzo Brown, in the early 1980s. The duo achieved a few minor hits on Billboard’s Hot R&B Songs chart with their most successful hit, “Genius Rap” reaching number 31.
Why Andre 😢😢😢 My heart is breaking and I can't stop crying. He was an amazing friend and I will miss him forever. 😢
— Mariah Carey (@MariahCarey) May 9, 2020
Harrell then met Def Jam records founder Russell Simmons and worked his way up the label. He eventually became vice president and general manager.
However, Harrell was best known for being one of the craftsmen of the sound of the late eighties and early nineties.
So sorry to hear this news.
André Harrell was a longtime friend and music legend responsible for artists like:
Mary J Blige
Al B Sure
Soul For Real
Rest In Peace.
— Holly Robinson Peete (@hollyrpeete) May 9, 2020
He founded one of the most popular hip-hop and R&B labels of the late 1980s and early 1990s, Uptown Records, in 1986. The label represented acts like Guy, Al B. Sure, Jodeci, Heavy D and the Boyz, and Father MC.
Harrell was also a king maker, credited with discovering Sean “Diddy” Combs in the early 1980s. Together, they signed a teenage Mary J. Blige in the late 1980s. With the help of of Harrell’s then intern, Combs, Blige’s career took off in the 1990s.
Andre Harrell always dressed like a mogul. Hip-Hop was in its infancy. I can only imagine the respectability politics at the time…
I think the optics of him, in the music industry, said something. To me it was — Just bcuz it’s “urban” doesn’t mean its not real business 👔💼💰 pic.twitter.com/LdS4MZhsgU
— Shelby Ivey Christie (@bronze_bombSHEL) May 9, 2020
In 1995, Harrell was promoted to CEO of Motown Records. Heavy D, who had been executive vice president of Uptown, then became president and CEO of the record label.
The world collectively mourns the passing of music industry icon, Andre Harrell.