ETI salutes Hip Hop Music Icon Andre Harrell – Dead at 59 from Heart Failure

In order to be a legend you have to learn from and study the legends.

A legend today is known for their noted celebrity and larger-than-life accomplishments, whose fame is well-known.

Andre Harrell, an influential music executive who launched Uptown Records and hired Sean “P. Diddy” Combs as an intern, has died, reports say. He was 59.

DJ D-Nice first announced his death on an Instagram Live, and Billboard and Variety separately confirmed it May 8, 2020.

Harrell, who was born in New York City, was half of a minor 1980s hip-hop duo, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but quickly joined the ranks of music executives, first at Russell Simmons’ Def Jam Records, where he rose to general manager, and then at Uptown Records, the New York-based label he founded.

There, he nurtured rappers Heavy D & The Boyz, R&B quartet Jodeci and singers Al B. Sure and Mary J. Blige, among others. And he discovered Combs, hiring him as an intern before promoting him to talent director. (After Harrell fired Combs in 1993, he went on to create the Bad Boy label.)

Harrell also helped develop TV projects through MCA, his record label’s distribution partner, including Fox’s “New York Undercover.”

In the mid-1990s, Harrell had a brief stint running Motown Records, then he formed his own label in the early 2010s. More recently, Combs hired him as an executive at his Revolt cable network, where he produced an annual music conference. And last December, BET announced plans for three-part miniseries called “Uptown,” tracing the history of Harrell’s label.

As news spread of his death, tributes flowed on social media overnight.

“He was an amazing friend and I can’t stop crying,” Mariah Carey said on Twitter. “He was an amazing friend and I will miss him forever.”\

View this post on Instagram

I don’t even know what to say. Andre…you were a mentor, a friend, a giant influence on me. I looked up to you so much  and more importantly, you looked out for me. A wide eyed, slightly gawky kid in my 20’s suddenly in Europe playing gigs for Puff. It was fun but I was out of my league, a little intimidated by the scope of things. But you took an interest in me, spent time with me. And you were so cool and smart, I just wanted to absorb everything that was in your brain. And the laugh….that raspy ”heh heh”. The coolest laugh. I’ll never forget the time you took me to buy my first nice suit, one afternoon before a gig in Paris. I had no fucking idea what shopping in Paris was. I actually didn’t know clothes could be that expensive and nearly had a heart attack when they rang up the total, but you looked at me and shrugged like, “hey, you want to look fly, kid? Don’t worry you’ll make that money back in a few weeks…okay, maybe months, whatever.” You knew so much and got a kick out of introducing people to new culture, new ways. Ugh Later in life when I would run into you, you’d let me know how proud of all my successes you were. I could tell you felt some ownership in there, from that steering you had done in the early part of my career. And rightly so that you felt it. You had every right to. I learned so much from just being in your presence, it was such a warm, wonderful place to be. My heart goes out to you and your family right now. Gianni, who I’ve only got to know recently, but shines just like you. What a joy to be around that kid. I wish I saw you a bit more in the past few years but that’s always the way. I’ll be grateful for all the many great memories I have to hold onto though. Love

A post shared by Mark Ronson (@iammarkronson) on


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