Andre Harrell, the legendary music executive who discovered Sean “Puffy/Diddy” Combs and Mary J Blige, has reportedly died.
The 59-year-old’s death was announced late on Friday night 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 during the 1990s.
Under his stewardship, it was responsible for introducing the world to artists including Jodeci, Blige, Heavy D and the Boyz, Guy and Notorious BIG.
The company was instrumental in the development of the New Jack Swing sub-genre of R&B, with influential producer Teddy Riley among those he signed.
He went on to be appointed chief executive of Motown Records in 1995.
Riley was among those leading tributes to Harrell, whom he said offered him encouragement just before his recent record-breaking Instagram live “battle” with fellow producer Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds.
More from Ents & Arts
Little Richard: ‘Architect of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ dies aged 87
Andy Serkis: Gollum actor raises £280,000 for charity after mammoth ‘Hobbitathon’ reading
Coronavirus: Las Vegas star Roy Horn of Siegfried & Roy dies with COVID-19
Coronavirus: Stars and notable figures who have died after contracting COVID-19
Brian May says he ‘won’t be able to walk or sleep for a while’ after gardening injury
Gogglebox star June Bernicoff dies aged 82
“We’ve lost one of the greatest mentors in my life,” Riley said on the site.
“I’m so happy I got to tell you one hour before the versus Battle, how much I respect and love you, as my big brother and mentor!
“The pep talk that you’ve given me right before, felt like the same pep talks that you’ve given me the beginning of Uptown Records, sleeping on the couch at your office (Brownstone) in BK. You chose me out of all the kids that you could have picked to work with you.
“I will never forget, all of these cherished moments and I will never forget you!!! I salute you…King of New Jack Swing.”
Producer and actor Viola Davis also honoured Harrell, writing on Twitter: “Thank you for the gift of so many incredible artists. Gone too soon.”
While Harrell fired Combs from Uptown Records in 1993, he is considered to have been a formative influence on the industry and Bad Boy Records, which Combs went on to launch.
Ava DuVernay, the US filmmaker, said: “Bad Boy era. Rockafella era. It all comes from Uptown. Saluting Andre Harrell. The architect of so much music, so much culture. Rest now. In power and peace.”