Andre O’Neal Harrell (September 26, 1960 – May 7, 2020) was an American music executive and multimedia producer. In 1986, recently a rapper, he formed Uptown Records, soon a leader in R&B, rap, and their fusion, “hip hop soul” and “new jack swing.” He gave Sean “Diddy” Combs his 1990 start in the industry, and later was Motown Records‘ CEO.
What was Andre Harrell’s net worth?
Andre Harrell was an American record and film producer who had a net worth of $50 million at the time of his death in 2020. He was notable for being the founder of Uptown Records which helped launch many careers of artists and executives. At Uptown, Andre discovered Sean “Diddy” Combs who rose from unpaid intern to Vice President within a few short years. Unfortunately, Andre died on May 8, 2020 at the age of 59.
Net Worth: $50 Million
Date of Birth: Sep 26, 1960 – May 8, 2020 (59 years old)
Place of Birth: Harlem
Profession: Entrepreneur, Businessperson, Rapper, Music executive
Nationality: United States of America
While a teenager, Harrell formed with Alonzo Brown, a friend from high school, a rap duo, Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde—Harrell as Jeckyll, Brown as Hyde—and reportedly achieved minor hit songs, “Genius Rap” in 1981 and “AM/PM” in 1984.
Harrell graduated from Charles Evans Hughes High School in 1978. He attended Baruch College, transferred to Lehman College, and, aiming to be a newscaster, majored in communications and business management. Third-year, he withdrew and took work at a local radio station.
In 1983, Harrell met Russell Simmons, a co-founder of Def Jam Recordings. He went to work for Def Jam and within two years became vice-president and general manager. After a few years working at Def Jam, Harrell left and founded his own label called Uptown Records.
Harrell is credited with having discovered and signed Sean “Puffy” Combs. In 1988, Mary J. Blige recorded an impromptu cover of Anita Baker‘s “Caught Up in the Rapture” at a recording booth in a local mall. Her mother’s boyfriend at the time later played the cassette for Jeff Redd, a recording artist and A&R runner for Uptown Records. Redd sent it to Harrell, who met with Blige. In 1989, she was signed to the label and became the company’s youngest and first female solo artist.
In 1988, Harrell was offered a label deal MCA Music Entertainment Group. After he had multiple successful releases, in 1992, MCA offered Harrell a multimedia deal, which involved film and television productions. They developed the feature film Strictly Business and FOX‘s hit police drama series, New York Undercover, which aired from 1994 until 1998.
Harrell renamed Uptown Records as Uptown Enterprises, and its records were featured in productions for Universal Pictures and Universal Television. In 1994, Harrell had a son with Wendy Credle, a music attorney. They named him Gianni Credle-Harrell.
In 1995, Harrell was appointed CEO of Motown Records and remained there until 1997. He also hosted Champagne & Bubbles on Sunday nights from 6 to 9pm on Emmis Urban AC WRKS (98.7 Kiss FM)/New York. Harrell was the CEO of Harrell Records, which is distributed through Atlantic Records. He partnered with budding Atlanta-based production company L7 Entertainment for the release of their new artists Hamilton Park and Netta Brielle.
Harrell was the Vice Chairman of Revolt, Diddy‘s multi-platform music network. On October 17, 2014, he was instrumental in launching the Revolt Music Conference in Miami, Florida, at the Fontainebleau Hotel. The event was attended by such entertainment figures as Guy Oseary, Russell Simmons, and L.A. Reid.
Andre left Rush Communications in 1986 to launch his own label which he called Uptown Records. In 1990 Uptown hired an eager unpaid intern named Sean Combs. Sean, who would later be known as Puff Daddy and then Diddy, would famously travel back and forth between New York City and Howard University in Washington D.C. where he was a business major. He dropped out after his sophomore year to pursue music full-time at Uptown.
Combs soon rose to the position of talent director and A&R rep at Uptown. In this position Combs developed acts such as Mary J. Blige and Jodeci. Within two years at the company, Diddy was a Vice President. He was just 22 years old. Diddy was fired from Uptown in 1991 after a charity basketball game ended in tragedy with nine deaths and dozens of injuries. Diddy would soon launch Bad Boy Records which would go on to have enormous success with many artists.
Harrell died on May 7, 2020, at his home in West Hollywood, California. He was 59, and news of his death was first announced on Instagram by D-Nice. According to Wendy Credle, Harrell’s ex-partner, he had been suffering from heart problems in the time leading up to his death. At his funeral, held on May 23, among notable attendees were singers Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey and record producer L.A. Reid.
In June of 1992 Harrell landed a $50 million, seven-year investment from MCA. With the investment he re-named his company Uptown Entertainment. Through Uptown Entertainment Harrell produced several television shows and movies. One of his biggest TV hits was the series “New York Undercover” which ran from 1994 to 1998. He soon renamed the label again, this time to Uptown Enterprises. He produced the films Strictly Business and Honey.
Harrell became the CEO of Motown Records in 1995. Two decades after firing him, Andre Harrell was hired by Diddy to serve as Vice Chairman of Revolt, Diddy’s multi-platform entertainment network.