Record executive, record producer, songwriter and rapper Andre Harrell has passed away Saturday morning due to heart failure, which was confirmed by his former wife Wendy Credle.
Harrell was the reason for many of our favorite stars’ success. Harrell was born in the Bronx on Sep. 26, 1960, he was 59 years old. Harrell was a part of the legendary hip-hop duo Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde, Andre was Dr. Jeckyll and his friend from high school, Alonzo Brown was Mr. Hyde. The names were inspired by the gothic novel ‘Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde’ (1886). The group was famous for wearing suits and ties and had hits such as A.M./P.M in 1984 .
Andre Harrell was the reason for artists such as Heavy D & The Boyz, Jodedci, Run DMC, LL Cool J, and many more. He was the owner of Uptown Records, and is remembered as a moguel, an inspiring legend, and creative visionary. He was known for finding break-out artists, with “smooth, street style”.
Harrell paved the way for many artists today, and was adored by the hearts of countless people. He was known for having a very sophisticated approach that appealed to all crowds, and for a long time he had one of the most successful record labels in the country. He also assembled the careers of Sure!, Mary J. Blige, Sean ‘P. Diddy Combs, Big Thyme and Guy.
During an interview with From Ghetto to Fabulous (2005), Andre spoke on Mary J. Blige saying “She’s not an album…she’s a movie”. Mary recorded a cover of the Anita Baker track ‘Caught Up in the Rapture’, at the Galleria Mall in Westchester County, New York and the tape ended up in the hands of Andre, so he came to Yonkers to find her. “I heard her sing and it was like she was older than her years, you could hear the pain in her voice, it’s not like she was on a career path at 16 and 17 years old.” said Andre. Harrell signed Mary, but kept her on hold for 3 years. Mary got her first big break when “You Remind Me” was on the ‘Strictly Business’ Soundtrack. They didn’t want to put the record out…it had that sweet sour thing.” Music Executives have called Mary the “Anti- Whitney Houston” Because of her unique voice, and ability to relate to the black community. “Andre made history, with what he did with Uptown Records, even before I was there.” Blige said.
In an interview with Andre and P. Diddy, Harrell said, “One of your biggest talents is your drive.” Diddy replied with “I really wanted to impress [Andre]…he made me run and get cheesecake and tapes…made me go 10 blocks to get tapes.” Diddy chased down Heavy D, who at the time lived in his neighborhood and was signed by Andre, and became one of his best friends. Diddy said, “My whole life changed when he saw Heavy D & The Boyz music video in 1985. “If it wasn’t for Heav’, I wouldn’t have gotten a chance…to get you that tape. “It’s surreal that I’m being interviewed by my mentor, we only get to have one mentor that puts us on…this is a dream come true” “[Andre] was the first one to give me a chance” Diddy added.
“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.” Berry Gordy, the founder of 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.”
Harrell was also Vice Chairman of REVOLT and he produced movies such as ‘Strictly Business’ (1991) and ‘Honey’ (2003).
Celebrities such as Dawn Richard, 50 Cent, Maxwell, Mariah Carey and Scott Storch have been paying tribute to the late Mr. Harrell on their Instagram pages.
In 1993, Harrell told Vanity Fair “I grew up thinking wonderful things could happen…I always believed I’d have a wonderful life”. We will forever remember Andre O’Nell Harrell.
He will be greatly missed.