Andre Harrell Dead at 59: Mariah Carey, John Legend and More Honor Music Executive


Andre Harrell, music executive who founded Uptown Records and discovered Sean Combs, has died. He was 59.

"We can confirm the passing of Andre Harrell. Everyone in the REVOLT family is devastated by the loss of our friend, mentor and Vice Chairman," Roma Khanna, CEO of REVOLT Media & TV, owned by Combs, told ET in a statement. "Andre’s impact on Hip Hop, the culture and on all of us personally has been immeasurable and profound. May he Rest In Peace.”

The producer's ex-wife, Wendy Credle, said Harrell died late Thursday at his home in West Hollywood, California, from heart failure, per multiple reports.

Harrell kicked off his career in the mid-'80s as hip-hop and rap was growing. He was part of the rap duo Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, before teaming up with Russell Simmons, founder of Def Jam Records, in 1983, where he learned about the business. In 1986, he founded Uptown Records, where he hired Combs as an intern and later gave him his big break. Harrell also signed Mary J. Blige, among others. Combs, however, was fired from Uptown and then launched Bad Boys Records. The two later reconciled and remained longtime friends.

In 1995, Harrell was appointed chief executive officer of Motown. He was also a producer on films like Strictly Business and Honey, among others.

Upon hearing the news of his death, Mariah Carey, Usher, John Legend and many more artists and celebrity friends took to social media to pay tribute to Harrell.

"Why Andre 😢😢😢 My heart is breaking and I can't stop crying. He was an amazing friend and I will miss him forever. 😢," Carey tweeted.

Legend also tweeted: "RIP Andre Harrell.  Whether we knew it or not, he had such a huge influence on the R&B/hip-hop my generation grew up loving.  He signed and mentored so many great artists, made so much great music happen, helped shape the culture."

See more tributes below:

View this post on Instagram

Dude. #AndreHarrell man. He gave you the best soundtracks of your life man and you didn’t even know it. We never gave him his flowers. He redefined the party! Def Jam was the artform. Bad Boy was the attitude Death Row was the muscle But without even knowing it? Uptown was ALWAYS the party. I’m sitting here going through my crates STUNNED at the amount of six degree to Andre records I’ve spun weekly on a regular basis for the last 35 years yo. The is a staggering loss. We never gave Andre Harrell his flowers. Name em: Al B Sure/Heavy D & The Boyz/Guy/. I mean mentoring Diddy alone brings in Jodeci/BIG/Mary J/Father MC/Christopher Williams—-and even in those names the success with THOSE artists come Missy/Timb/Neptune’s But let’s not stop there: first time we really paid attention to Halle Berry was in a Harrell film called Strictly Business Let’s throw “Candy Rain” in there or Lil Shawn’s “I Made Love”—-I may be dating myself but man Mgruff’s “Before We Start” got MUCH play round my way. Jeff Redd (who brought Blidge to the label) had a banger with “You Called And Told Me”—-“Touch It” from Monifah STILL bangs to this day. & back to Diddy, I’m absolutely w/o a doubt certain that he feels his success is also Harrell’s success so in a round about way there is no Bad Boy w/o Harrell. (Lemme also remember Daryl Chill Mitchell’s “Hip Hop’s Here To Stay” another classic uptown jawn. Horace Brown too..... Too Many Classics Let’s not forget NY Undercover & all the clever music moments in each ep. We never gave him his flowers. This isn’t even half of his achievements nor does this even bring to light the people’s lives he changed or his loved ones left behind. He literally introduced a new sound to the world (the first new jack swing projects were on Uptown)—-wait hold that——his label changed music TWICE because hip hop soul’s music picked up where New Jack left off and on the same label. Such a short time to paradigm shift music TWICE!!!!!!!! Damn man. We never gave him his flowers man. 😣

A post shared by Questlove Froman, (@questlove) on



Little Richard Dead at 87: Spike Lee, Viola Davis, Ringo Starr and More Pay Tribute

Little Richard, Rock 'n' Roll Pioneer, Dead at 87

Roy Horn, Legendary Magician and Vegas Performer, Dead at 75