The 59-year-old's death was announced late on Friday, May 8, 2020 night by DJ D-Nice during his Club Quarantine series on Instagram Live, and confirmed in a short video posted on the account for Diddy's multi-platform music network Revolt TV, where Harrell served as vice-chairman. The cause of death has not yet been revealed.
The legendary music executive, who was born in Harlem and raised in the Bronx, New York, is best known for founding Uptown Records, which became one of the most popular hip-hop and R&B labels during the 1990s.
The label was responsible for the success of stars including Jodeci, Guy, Heavy D and the Boyz, and Notorious B.I.G. It also led the way in the sub-genre of New Jack Swing, after signing super-producer Teddy Riley of Guy and Blackstreet fame.
The "No Diggity" hitmaker led the tributes to Harrell, who he revealed he last spoke to before his recent Instagram Live showdown with fellow producer Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds.
"We've lost one of the greatest mentors in my life," Riley said in a post 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."
Oscar-winner Viola Davis also honoured Harrell, tweeting, "Thank you for the gift of so many incredible artists. Gone too soon."
"A Wrinkle in Time" filmmaker Ava DuVernay added, "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."