Uptown Records founder Andre Harrell dies at age 59

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(May 9, 2020) Andre Harrell, the music giant who founded Uptown Records and later went on to head Motown Records, has died at age 59, causes unknown.

Harrell first hit the charts as an artist, being one half of the rap duo Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, who hit the charts with the single “Genius Rap” in the early 80s. But it was as an executive that he would really establish a reputation.

Harrell first worked at Russell Simmons’ Def Jam imprint, and was a rising star there. He left in 1986 to  found Uptown Records, right as the New Jack Swing era was beginning, and he drove that train to big success with artists like Jodeci, Heavy D & The Boys, Guy, Al B Sure! and Mary J. Blige. He also helped discover a young Sean Combs, who later went on to become a star artist and record executive himself.

After Uptown was purchased by MCA Records, Harrell was tapped to lead a floundering Motown label. His period heading the iconic brand was both brief and less successful.

(May 9, 2020) Andre Harrell, the music giant who founded Uptown Records and later went on to head Motown Records, has died at age 59, causes unknown.

Harrell first hit the charts as an artist, being one half of the rap duo Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, who hit the charts with the single “Genius Rap” in the early 80s. But it was as an executive that he would really establish a reputation.

Harrell first worked at Russell Simmons’ Def Jam imprint, and was a rising star there. He left in 1986 to  found Uptown Records, right as the New Jack Swing era was beginning, and he drove that train to big success with artists like Jodeci, Heavy D & The Boys, Guy, Al B Sure! and Mary J. Blige. He also helped discover a young Sean Combs, who later went on to become a star artist and record executive himself.

After Uptown was purchased by MCA Records, Harrell was tapped to lead a floundering Motown label. His period heading the iconic brand was both brief and less successful.

Harrell remained active in the music business, including helping lead the Revolt Music Conference in Miami. He was also working on a miniseries that chronicled the history of Uptown Records. He will be greatly missed.

 

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