By J. K. Schmid, Special to the AFRO

A pioneering record executive has died. Andre Harrell, founder of Uptown Record and former head of Motown Records, passed late Thursday night. His ex-wife, Wendy Credle, gave the New York Times heart failure as a cause of death. He was 59.

Harrell, a New York native, entered the rap scene as half of the duo Dr. Jeckyll (Harell) and Mr. Hyde (Alonzo Brown), they recorded and performed from 1981 to 1987.

In this Jan. 16, 2010 file photo, media executive Andre Harrell, right, presents an award to Sean “Diddy” Combs at the Warner Theatre during the 2010 BET Hip Hop Honors in Washington. Harrell, the Uptown Records founder who shaped the sound of hip-hop and R&B in the late ’80s and ’90s with acts like Mary J. Blige and Heavy D and also launched the career of mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs, has died, several members of the music community revealed late Friday, May 8, 2020. He was 59. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

The musician met Russell Simmons, founder of Def Jam Records, in 1983, joined, and quickly rose to Vice President and General Manager.

The executive and performer left Def Jam to found Uptown Records in 1986. The label is known for a roster that includes Guy, Heavy D, Al B. Sure! and Mary J. Blige, R&B chart toppers and early greats of the New Jack Swing era.

Sean “Puffy” Combs joined Uptown in 1990 as an intern.