Record executive and founder of Uptown Records 8Andre Harrell died May 8, 2020 in West Hollywood at the age of 59. The sudden death is suspected to be as a result of cardiac arrest.
Harrell was the vice chairman of REVOLT Media and TV at the time of his death. It was REVOLT that broke the news.
After founding Uptown Records, Harrell helped to launch the careers of Mary J Blige, Heavy D, and Sean “P Diddy” “Puffy” Combs who went on to become a mogul himself.
Not only did he help to launch musical careers, Harrell helped to shape the musical styles of Hip-Hop, Urban, and modern R&B.
It was Uptown Records that released the debut single by The Notorious B.I.G. but label distributor MCA Records had qualms about releasing the debut album because of its, “raw and rough subject matter about street life”. As a result, Harrell let Combs go so that Combs could go out and “get rich”.
The television network BET has planned a three part program focusing on Harrell and Uptown Records.
Other artists that saw success with Harrell are Boyz II Men, Al B. Sure!, Guy, Jodeci, Soul for Real, Lost Boyz, Christopher Williams, Monifah, Father MC, and Teddy Riley.
Andre O’Neal Harrell was born on September 26, 1960 in Harlem, New York where he became a part of the Rap duo Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde. The duo released their debut album “The Champagne of Rap” in 1985.
Before becoming a record executive, Harrell worked with Russell Simmons at Def Jam where he helped launch the careers of Run-DMC and LL Cool J.
He was also a CEO and president of Motown Records.
Harrell did not limit his talents to music; he also produced a number of productions on TV. Along with executive producing 76 episodes of “New York Undercover”; Harrell’s name also appears as producer or executive producer on “State of the Culture”, “Icon Award Gala Honoring Queen Latifah”, “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop, A Bad Boy Story”, “Music Talk: Babyface”, “Breaking Genres”, “Black and White: A Portrait of Sean Combs”, “Borrow My Crew”, “Honey”, “Cousin Skeeter”, “Finesse & Synquis: Straight from the Soul”, “Guy: Spend the Night”, “Heavy D & The Boyz: Somebody for Me”, “Finesse & Synquis: Soul Sisters”, “Guy: Groove Me”, “Heavy D & The Boyz: Don’t You Know”, “Heavy D & The Boyz: Moneyearnin; Mount Vernon”, and “Heavy D & The Boyz: The Overweight Lovers in the House”.
Harrell made three appearances in the music videos of Al B. Sure!, Heavy D & The Boyz, and The Uptown Crew.
No list of survivors was given.
Feature photo credit: By Shuttershock – Shuttershock, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=90022777