Andre Harrell, the legendary music director who discovered Sean “Puffy / Diddy” Combs and Mary J Blige, is believed to have died.
The death of this 59-year-old man was announced Friday evening by DJ D-Nice during his Club Quarantine series on Instagram live. The cause of death has not yet been revealed.
Born in Harlem and raised in the Bronx, New York, Harrell is best known for founding Uptown Records, which became one of the most popular hip-hop and R&B labels in the 1990s. Under his direction, he was responsible for presenting the world to artists such as Jodeci, Blige, Heavy D and the Boyz, Guy and Notorious BIG.
The company was instrumental in the development of R&B’s New Jack Swing subgenre, with influential producer Teddy Riley among those he signed.
He was then appointed general manager of Motown Records in 1995.
Riley was among the main tributes to Harrell, who he said offered him encouragement just before his recent “battle” live on Instagram with colleague Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds.
“We have lost one of the greatest mentors of my life,” said Riley on the site. “I’m so happy to be able to tell you an hour before the battle against, how much I respect and love you, as a big brother and mentor!”
“The encouraging speech you gave me just before, was like the same encouraging speeches you gave me at the start of Uptown Records, sleeping on your office sofa (Brownstone) in BK. You chose me from among all the children you could have chosen to work with you.
“I will never forget all these precious moments and I will never forget you !!! I salute you… King of New Jack Swing. “
Producer and actor Viola Davis also paid tribute to Harrell, writing on Twitter: “Thank you for the gift of so many amazing artists. Left too early. “
While Harrell fired Combs from Uptown Records in 1993, he is considered to have had a formative influence on the industry and Bad Boy Records, which Combs then launched.
Ava DuVernay, the American filmmaker, said, “The Bad Boy era. The Rockafella era. Everything comes from Uptown. Saluting Andre Harrell. The architect of so much music, so much culture. Rest now. In power and in peace. “