News of the death of veteran music executive Andre Harrell hit the industry hard with many artists, former colleagues, fans and friends expressing their grief on social media Friday night, May 8, into Saturday.
Harrell founded Uptown Records and hired Sean “P. Diddy” Combs as an intern, later promoting him to vice president of A&R. Uptown was home to Mary J. Blige, Father MC, Heavy D and many others. In 1995, Harrell went on to run Motown Records as CEO. Harrell’s final social-media post was a short, vintage clip of Heavy D.
Universal Music, which partnered with Harrell on many projects, issued a statement on Saturday: “We mourn the loss of Andre Harrell, the founder of Uptown Records, one of R&B and hip-hop’s most significant labels, where he molded a distinct sound and launched the careers of many seminal artists who continue to influence music today. Andre’s countless contributions to Universal Music Group include serving as President and General Manager of Def Jam Recordings, CEO of Motown Records and as a successful film and television producer at MCA. UMG and the entire music industry have lost a truly visionary member of our community and we extend our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.”
Motown Records founder Berry Gordy commented: “I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of my friend, Andre Harrell. I appreciated his expertise, forward thinking and the many contributions he brought to Motown after it was sold to MCA. He will be missed.”