Andre Harrell Dies At Only 59 Years Old

By Ben Hamill - May 11 2020

Andre Harrell Dies At Only 59 Years Old

Sad news confirmed by Universal Music Group late last week is that R&B producer and founder of Uptown Records Andre Harrell, has passed away. He was only 59. The label at the time of the tragic announcement described Harrell to have been a true visionary member of the R&B community at large. Harrell’s legacy reached far and wide and his passing is mourned by some of music’s biggest names. John Legend and mentor Russell Simmons were two big music names to have paid tribute to Harrell on social media immediately following the news of his passing.

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Legend wrote an emotional tribute to Harrell. He wrote that whether knowingly or unknowingly, Harrell had had a massive influence on the entire R&B/hip-hop scene. He signed and also mentored multiple amazing artists, wrote Legend, making huge volumes of great and awesome music happen throughout the course of his life and acclaimed career. Harrell was of course the very man who had discovered R&B/hip-hop legendary artist Sean “Diddy” Combs.

His Early Career

Andre Harrell’s career started out from a place of having been born in New York’s Bronx. He joined rap duo Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in the early 80s and eventually teamed up with Def Jam Records founder Russell Simmons in 1983. He wasted no time working himself up the label and in 1986 decided the time right to launch his very own music label. And so was formed into being the legendary Uptown Records.

This also marked the point in time when he decided to throw the dice on Sean Combs, awarding to he latter his big break in entering the big-time music scene. Harrell also during that time signed the likes of the magnificent Mary J. Blige, among many other music greats. As for Combs – he eventually got fired by Uptown and went on to establish Bad Boy Records shortly after in 1993. Never one for strife, Harrell made it so that he and Combs were later able to reconcile their differences. The pair remained lifelong friends.

His Legacy Is Diverse

Harrell was eventually in 1995 appointed CEO of Motown Records. He then went on to establish himself as a top producer and worked on films like Honey and the equally popular Strictly Business. 

Harrell truly was more than just a man with a keen eye for musical talent – he was also a prolific creative, and one that would ultimately turn any project that he touched to pure gold. He was a beloved member of the global world of music and occupied a dear and special place in the heart of many an R&B and hip-hop great. He was valued not only as mentor but also (and perhaps even more so) as friend. His specialty was that of not only identifying raw talent but also of helping that talent grow and allowing those he chose to mentor to go on and out into the world without him. He wanted no credit for the success of his musical children and will forever be remembered a true study in humanity and humility.


Where was Andre Harrell from?

Harrell was born in New York’s Bronx, the region commonly known as Harlem, New York (U.S.).

Was Harrell from poor beginnings?

Yes. He described his early years as those lived by a poor, inner-city kid.

Was Andre Harrell married at the time of his death?

No, he wasn’t. He was previously married to ex-wife Wendy Credle.

What caused Andre Harrell’s death?

He died of heart failure.

How old was Harrell when he died?

Harrell was only 59 when he died.

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