Harrell died from heart failure on Thursday, May 7, at 59 years old. The Bad Boy founder broke his silence about it three days later on Instagram, where he sent condolences to Harrell’s son Gianni and cousin O’Neal McKnight.
“I’ve got to give myself the reality of this in doses. Because I can’t even handle this,” wrote Combs. “I hope to God that you are all blessed to have someone in your life that loves you and believes in you like this man believed in me.… I’m going to miss him so much. I can’t even imagine life without Dre. God bless @gianni, @onealmcknight and the rest of the family. 🖤✊🏿 LOVE YOU FOREVER @andreharrell !!!!!!!!!!”
Harrell founded Uptown Records in the 1980s and hired Combs as an intern at the label. Combs quickly rose at Uptown until ultimately being fired from the label in 1993 and starting Bad Boy Records that same year. He hired Harrell as vice chairman of his network Revolt many years later.
The late executive started in the music business as one half of the rap duo Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde with Alonzo Brown. He made the transition to working behind the scenes after landing a position under Russell Simmons at Def Jam Records.
Comb’s wrote his message next to a video of the speech he gave at the Industry Icon Award Pre-Grammy Gala earlier this year, when he told Harrell about being a father figure to him.
“I’m only standing up here because you gave me the chance, you gave me the opportunity,” Combs said during the speech.
Harrell assisted in introducing future big-name acts to the world at Uptown, like Jodeci, Guy, and Mary J. Blige, who posted a message to Instagram on Monday, May 11, about his death.
“I don’t know where I would be if you didn’t believe in me. RIP @andreharrell,” wrote Blige next to a clip of an old interview she and Harrell did together. “This can’t be real. Thank you for helping me and loving me until the last days of your life. Rest easy my musical father. I will continue to do my very best to make you proud and continue to find joy and inspiration in your life and legacy. Another angel watching over me 💔💔💔💔😭😭😭😭😭🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽.”