DJ D-Nice revealed the news during his Club Quarantine Instagram Live series, but there has been no official release regarding his passing yet.
Harrell was a native of New York City. His career as a music executive started after his run as one half of the rap duo, Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. In 1983, Harrell joined Def Jam Records, where he served as a vice president and later general manager before leaving to start his own company, Uptown Records.
Through Uptown Records, Andre Harrell helped pioneer the New Jack Swing sound. Uptown became home to acts like Teddy Riley and Guy, Al B. Sure, Heavy D, and more. Harrell also signed Mary J. Blige and Jodeci. Both Mary and Jodeci benefited from Uptown's ambitious young intern, Sean "Puffy" Combs. Puff went from an intern to an A&R before getting fired from the label in 1993.
After his departure, Diddy went on to start his now-legendary Bad Boy record label. But Diddy stayed close to his mentor. At the time of his death, Harrell served as the vice-chairman of Diddy's REVOLT, where he produced shows and helped create the REVOLT conference. Harrell was also the president of Motown Records before PolyGram acquired the label in 1995.
Harrell's impact wasn't limited to just music. He worked on several movie soundtracks as well as being the executive producer of New York Undercover. The series ran from 1994 to 1999 and featured star-studded guest appearances from people like Tyra Banks and Gladys Knight.
In wake of Harrell's death, BET announced it will still move forward with Uptown, a forthcoming miniseries that chronicles the rise of Uptown Records.
"We are mourning the loss of a cultural icon, Andre Harrell, a chief architect of the modern hip-hop and R&B sound," network president Scott Mills said in a statement to Variety. "Andre was tremendously excited about sharing the origin story of Uptown Records, and its pivotal role in the urban music landscape. With his tragic passing, BET is committed to ensuring that the Uptown limited series event tells both the Uptown story and Andre’s story — that of the incredible music innovator, man and friend to so many."
BET has not confirmed when it'll begin shooting the three-part series, as all productions have been halted over coronavirus concerns.