Andre Harrell, Uptown Records founder and music industry legend, passed away on Friday (May 8) at 59 years old. The news of Harrell’s passing was announced by DJ D-Nice during Friday night's Club Quarantine set on Instagram Live, and was confirmed Saturday morning by Revolt TV, where Harrell served as vice chairman. His cause of death has not yet been revealed.
Harrell had a huge impact on the careers of many of today's biggest artists.The music world is mourning this monumental loss and reflecting on his legacy.
With over 30 years in the entertainment industry, Andre Harrell was an inspiration and mentor to many. Founding Uptown Records in 1986, the music icon worked with Guy and producer-performer Teddy Riley, Al B. Sure, Jodeci, Heavy D and the Boyz and Father MC. Harrell also signed a then teenage Mary J. Blige. But perhaps his most notable achievement was his eye for talent when he hired an enterprising young intern named Sean “Puffy” Combs who he quickly promoted to an A&R role at the company. This role led Diddy to discover and sign the Notorious B.I.G.
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And Andre Harrell always had pearls of wisdom to share on the impact of Black culture and his rise to the top.
See some of his most powerful quotes below:
"My dad worked hard at the produce market in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx, but he didn’t love it so he was unhappy. That experience made me move towards something I really wanted to do, because otherwise I would feel trapped like him." (Reuters 2018)
"We were representing like an urban chic, which we called ‘ghetto fabulous,’ and he [Diddy] loved it. He loved it so much he would be walking around in the office with no shirt on, Timberland boots and jewelry… He was art imitating life." - (theGrio, 2016)
"I'm an inner-city kid who knows the reality of being poor. I'm looking for escapism. Fun music. Good-time music. So, Uptown." (Vanity Fair, 1993)
"My goal is to bring real Black America — just as it is, not watered down — to people everywhere through music, through films, through everything we do." (The New York Times, 1992)
"I tend to lean toward things that are culturally significant in our universe at that time." (Wall Street Journal, 2014)
"I try to tell him that youth is for doing it, and doing it right now. So figure out what you love, and then get to work. Then, when you are my age, you can sit back and call the shots." - (Reuters, 2018)
"I'm an inner-city kid who knows the reality of being poor. I'm looking for escapism. Fun music. Good-time music." (Vanity Fair, 1993)
"There’s not enough flavor here. Do you give parties? I give eight, nine a year. Big ones. Here’s how you do this. You get tents. You invite these people. That’s how you give a party." (Harrell to ICM talent agent Bill Block, via Vanity Fair, 1992)
(Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)