Andre Harrell Dead at 59: Diddy, Mariah Carey, John Legend and More Honor Music Executive
By Liz Calvario
Leon Bennett/Getty Images
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.
On Monday, days after news of Harrell's death first broke, Diddy paid tribute with a heartfelt message posted to Twitter.
"I honestly still can’t believe it, I’ve got to give myself the reality of this in doses. Because I can’t even handle this," the rapper and music mogul wrote. "I hope to God that you are all blessed to have someone in your life that loves you and believes in you like this man believed in me."
I honestly still can’t believe it, I’ve got to give myself the reality of this in doses. Because I can’t even handle this. I hope to God that you are all blessed to have someone in your life that loves you and believes in you like this man believed in me.… pic.twitter.com/Mo0vpG0GSJ
Mary J. Blige also penned her own heartbroken tribute on Instagram, writing, "I don’t know where I would be if you didn’t believe in me. RIP @andreharrell ... This can’t be real."
"Thank you for helping me and loving me until the last days of your life," she continued. "Rest easy my musical father. I will continue to do my very best to make you proud and continue to find joy and inspiration in your life and legacy. Another angel watching over me."
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."
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
This man was a walking inspiration.He had impeccable vision ... He was pure class 🥂... his energy,confidence and swag was contagious.He kept it a thousand and he gave us some of the greatest artist ever ... I respected him immensely. #RIPAndreHarrell 👑 🙏🏿🖤👊🏾💯 pic.twitter.com/S2ztf7ufcv
I was stunned to wake up to the news of the passing of music mogul, @iamAndreHarrell. We were just speaking on Tuesday of getting the hip hop community organized to support the Ahmaud Arbery Justice efforts. Andre never stopped thinking, planning, and innovating. #RIPAndreHarrellpic.twitter.com/56GiwDFhKj
Such a tragic loss for the music industry and for all of us. Andre's genius paved the way for so many of the kings and queens of hip hop and R&B. Sending my love to his family and friends during this difficult time. https://t.co/vdA26AGFgr