Andre Harrell, a veteran music executive best known for signing a young Sean Combs to his first record deal and later went on to head Motown Records, has died. He was 59. The cause of death is as yet unclear.
DJ D Nice revealed the sad news while spinning on Instagram Live for his popular Club Quarantine series. Variety has yet to receive official word though sources have confirmed Harrell’s passing.
A native of New York, Harrell started his career in music as an artist, one-half of the rap duo Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. In 1983 Harrell teamed with Russell Simmons, the founder of Def Jam Records, and had one of his early experiences in the business working as a vice president and later GM of the label. He left to start his own record company, Uptown Records, where he signed Sean “Puffy” Combs. He later brought Mary J. Blige onto the roster and saw success with both artists in the late 1980s and into the 1990s.
Harrell would later find a home at MCA productions where he developed multiple projects in film and television in the 1990s and returned to the music business full-time in 1995 to run Motown Records as CEO. Through that era, the label was home such acts as Boyz II Men, Jodeci and Al B. Sure.
Harrell and Combs remained longtime friends and business associates and Harrell served as vice chairman of Revolt, Combs’ multi-platform music network, and a producer on its panel show “State of the Culture.”
A pioneer of hip-hop and R&B and black entertainment in general, serving as executive producer of Harrell could be seen at many red carpet events on both coasts. He appears in Diddy’s 2017 documentary “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: A Bad Boy Story” and, according to IMDB, had been working on a TV miniseries about Uptown that was in the treatment phase at BET.
A true pioneer and trail blazer, you will be missed. Prayers and condolences go out to his family.
Ask Lance Bass, JC Chasez, Joey Fatone or Chris Kirkpatrick why Justin Timberlake left ‘N Sync at the height of the boy band’s success and you’re likely to get different answers. Timberlake’s truth is revealed in The Hollywood Reporter‘s Feb. 17 issue. “We were on a stadium tour, and I just felt like the whole thing was too big. It started as a fun snowball fight that was becoming an avalanche,” the “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” singer remembers. “And, also, I was growing out of it.”
“I felt like I cared more about the music than some of the other people in the group,” he explains. “I felt like I had other music I wanted to make and that I needed to follow my heart.”
In addition to becoming a solo artist, Timberlake found success in Hollywood with Alpha Dog, The Social Network, Friends With Benefits, Runner Runner and other films. But he doesn’t prefer one form of expression to the other. “I want to do both things. I really do idolize the golden era of Hollywood, when actors were required to sing and move. But I’m just following my gut in the decisions that I make about what I’m going to do next. I’m mostly just glad this is all working out because I really can’t do anything else,” Timberlake confesses. “I’m not gifted at anything else.”
At the moment, Timberlake is unsure whether he wants to focus on acting or music. “Going on tour is a circus. You set up the tents, you play the show, you tear the tents down and go on to the next place. It’s like Groundhog Day,” he says. “After the 125th show, you feel debilitated.”
Even so, Timberlake is excited about his new music. “It sounds more like where I’ve come from than any other music I’ve ever made,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s Memphis. It’s Southern American music. I want to make it sound modern—at least that’s the idea right now.”
The most important thing to consider, though, is how his career will affect his family.
“Everything feels divisive to me right now,” he says. “Everything.”
Frank Ocean is facing a $14.5 million defamation lawsuit from his father Calvin Cooksey, TMZ has reported.
The allegations stem from a Tumblr post Ocean penned last year in the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. “I was 6 years old when I heard my dad call our transgender waitress a faggot as he dragged me out of a neighborhood diner saying we wouldn’t be served because she was dirty,” Ocean wrote. Cooksey alleges that this passage is untrue and “damaged his financial opportunities in film and music.” He’s asking for $14.5 million in damages.
This is the second multi-million dollar lawsuit Cooksey has served relating to Ocean: last year, he asked a court to award him $142 million after Def Jam mogul Russell Simmons called him “a deadbeat dad.”
Update: February 3, 2:15 p.m.: Cooksey accuses Tyler, The Creator of being “devil worshiper” in the full complaint.
Pitchfork has obtained a copy of Cooksey’s complaint against Ocean. In it, Cooksey accuses Ocean’s collaborator Tyler, the Creator of being a “devil worshiper,” and calls Ocean “a fraud and only cared about making millions of dollars through Defendant’s exclusive deal with Apple, Inc.”
The lawsuit reads: “It’s important to note that on June 21, 2016, the Defendant did NOT include a homophobic bigot named Tyler the Creator in the Defendant’s June 21, 2016 anti-homophobic Tumblr essay.” The complaint goes on to accuses Frank Ocean’s mother, Katonya Breaux, of hypocrisy for slamming gospel singer Kim Burrell’s homophobic rant while not calling out Tyler’s use of slurs.
“This is the reason Defendant did not include this homophobic Tyler the Creator on June 21, 2016, because it would expose Defendant as a hypocrite and fraud who dishonestly betrayed the LGBT fans base for Tyler the Creator, who has clearly demonstrated hate for the LGBT community,” the lawsuit says.
Cooksey’s complaint makes frequent mention of Tyler’s ongoing ban from the United Kingdom, instituted by in 2014 by then-Home Secretary (and current British Prime Minster) Theresa May. According to another document viewed by Pitchfork, a judge has ordered Cooksey and Ocean into mediation in an attempt to reach a settlement.
Pop superstar George Michael has died peacefully at home, his publicist said.
The 53-year-old, who was set to release a documentary in 2017, rose to fame as a member of Wham!, known for their hits Club Tropicana and Last Christmas. He had a highly successful solo career which included the songs Careless Whisper, Faith, Outside and Freedom! ’90.
Michael – who was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou – had 11 UK number ones and sold more than 100 million albums throughout a career spanning almost four decades. His most recent album, Symphonica, was released in 2014.
Thames Valley police told the BBC an ambulance attended the house in Goring, Oxfordshire, at 1.42pm.They said the death was being treated as “unexplained but not suspicious” and they would not comment further until after a postmortem.
In a statement, the star’s publicist said: “It is with great sadness that we can confirm our beloved son, brother and friend George passed away peacefully at home over the Christmas period.
“The family would ask that their privacy be respected at this difficult and emotional time. There will be no further comment at this stage.”
Michael’s manager Michael Lippman said he died from heart failure and was found “in bed, lying peacefully.” His publicist Cindi Berger said he had not been ill.
On Twitter, Andrew Ridgeley, Michael’s partner in Wham!, said he was “heartbroken at the loss of my beloved friend”.
I am casting for actors to fill the few remaining roles in his next feature film. If you are a professional actor that is serious about your career, submit your headshot and resume, to http://chrisstokesent.com/contact.html This is NOT A COMPETITION. This is a casting call to find actors for the remaining roles in my next movie.
I look forward to receiving your headshot and resumes!!
Tonight marked music’s biggest night of the year, The Grammy’s! If you didn’t an opportunity to see the great performances and all of tonight’s winners, here is the list of music’s royalty who won tonight! Congratulations to all of the winners!!!
Best New Artist Sam Smith
Best Pop Duo/Group Performance A Great Big World With Christina Aguilera – “Say Something”
Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga – Cheek To Cheek
Best Pop Solo Performance Pharrell Williams – “Happy”
Best Pop Vocal Album Sam Smith – In The Lonely Hour
Best Rock Performance Jack White – “Lazaretto”
Best Rock Album Beck – Morning Phase
Best Rock Song Paramore – “Ain’t It Fun” Hayley Williams & Taylor York, songwriters
Best Alternative Rock Album St. Vincent – St. Vincent
Best Metal Performance Tenacious D – “The Last In Line”
Best Rap Performance Kendrick Lamar – “I”
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration Eminem Featuring Rihanna – “The Monster”
Best Rap Song Kendrick Lamar – “I” K. Duckworth & C. Smith, songwriters
Best Rap Album Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP2
Best Traditional R&B Performance “Jesus Children” Robert Glasper Experiment Featuring Lalah Hathaway & Malcolm-Jamal Warner
Best R&B Song Beyoncé Featuring Jay Z – “Drunk In Love” Shawn Carter, Rasool Diaz, Noel Fisher, Jerome Harmon, Beyoncé Knowles, Timothy Mosely, Andre Eric Proctor & Brian Soko, songwriters
Best Urban Contemporary Album Pharrell Williams – Girl
Best R&B Album Toni Braxton & Babyface – Love, Marriage & Divorce
Best Contemporary Instrumental Album Chris Thile & Edgar Meyer – Bass & Mandolin
Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media Frozen Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez, Tom MacDougall & Chris Montan, compilation producers
Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media The Grand Budapest Hotel Alexandre Desplat, composer
Best Song Written for Visual Media “Let It Go” from Frozen Kristen Anderson-Lopez & Robert Lopez, songwriters (Idina Menzel)
Best Country Solo Performance Carrie Underwood – “Something In The Water”
Best Country Duo/Group Performance The Band Perry – “Gentle On My Mind”
Best Country Song “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” Glen Campbell & Julian Raymond, songwriters (Glen Campbell)
Best Bluegrass Album The Earls Of Leicester – The Earls Of Leicester
Best American Roots Performance Rosanne Cash – “A Feather’s Not A Bird”
Best American Roots Song Rosanne Cash – “A Feather’s Not A Bird”
Best Americana Album Rosanne Cash – The River & The Thread
Best Folk Album Old Crow Medicine Show – Remedy
Best Music Video Pharrell Williams – “Happy”
Best Music Film 20 Feet From Stardom Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer & Judith Hill Morgan Neville, video director; Gil Friesen & Caitrin Rogers, video producers We Are From LA, video director; Kathleen Heffernan, Solal Micenmacher, Jett Steiger, video producers
Producer of the Year, Non-Classical Max Martin “Bang Bang” (Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj) “Break Free” (Ariana Grande Featuring Zedd) “Dark Horse” (Katy Perry Featuring Juicy J) “Problem” (Ariana Grande Featuring Iggy Azalea) “Shake It Off” (Taylor Swift) “Unconditionally” (Katy Perry)
Best Instrumental Composition John Williams – “The Book Thief”
Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella Pentatonix – “Daft Punk”
Best Arrangement, Instrumental and Vocals Billy Childs – “New York Tendaberry”
Best Recording Package Jeff Ament, Don Pendleton, Joe Spix & Jerome Turner, art directors Pearl Jam – Lightning Bolt
Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package Susan Archie, Dean Blackwood & Jack White, art directors The Rise & Fall Of Paramount Records, Volume One (1917-27)
Best Album Notes Ashley Kahn John Coltrane – Offering: Live At Temple University
Best Historical Album Colin Escott & Cheryl Pawelski, compilation producers; Michael Graves, mastering engineer Hank Williams – The Garden Spot Programs, 1950
Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical Beck – Morning Phase Tom Elmhirst, David Greenbaum, Florian Lagatta, Cole Marsden Greif-Neill, Robbie Nelson, Darrell Thorp, Cassidy Turbin & Joe Visciano, engineers; Bob Ludwig, mastering engineer
Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical Tijs Michiel Verwest, remixer John Legend – “All Of Me (Tiesto’s Birthday Treatment Remix)”
Best Surround Sound Album Beyoncé – Beyoncé Elliot Scheiner, surround mix engineer; Bob Ludwig, surround mastering engineer; Beyoncé Knowles, surround producer
Best Regional Roots Music Album Jo-El Sonnier – The Legacy
Best Reggae Album Ziggy Marley – Fly Rasta
Best World Music Album Angelique Kidjo – Eve
Best Children’s Album Neela Vaswani – I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up For Education And Changed The World (Malala Yousafzai)
Best Musical Theatre Album Beautiful: The Carole King Musical Jessie Mueller, principal soloist; Jason Howland, Steve Sidwell & Billy Jay Stein, producers (Carole King, composer & lyricist) (Original Broadway Cast)
Best Blues Album Johnny Winter – Step Back
Best Spoken Word Album Joan Rivers – Diary Of A Mad Diva
Best Comedy Album “Weird Al” Yankovic – Mandatory Fun
Best New Age Album Ricky Kej & Wouter Kellerman – Winds Of Samsara
Best Improved Jazz Solo Chick Corea – “Fingerprints”
Best Jazz Vocal Album Dianne Reeves – Beautiful Life
Best Jazz Instrumental Album Chick Corea Trio – Trilogy
Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band – Life In The Bubble
Best Latin Jazz Album Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra – The Offense Of The Drum
New Performing Rights Organization, Global Music Rights has threatened to sue YouTube. The group which represents about 40 notable artists, including Pharrell Williams says that YouTube no longer has the license to perform the songs for a lot of different artists whose material is on YouTube. The artists/songwriters that make up Global Music Rights were former members of ASCAP and BMI. Now that they no longer are a part of the respective Organizations they have requested that over 20,000 songs be removed from YouTube. YouTube claims that they have the right to still perform these songs under the consent decree that they have with ASCAP & BMI. A lawyer from YouTube commented saying that if these artists want their material removed that they must go through the “notice & takedown” process that all YouTube users must go through. No formal lawsuit has been filed, as Global Music Rights is trying to negotiate with YouTube outside of court. We’ll see how long the negotiations last before the media giant is sued for over $1 Billion.
This morning, Beyoncé earned her 47th Grammy nomination for Best Urban Contemporary (for her self-titled fifth album). Previously, at 46 nominations, Beyoncé was tied with Dolly Parton. But Bey didn’t stop there: she earned another four nominations — and she could still be nominated for another in the Album of the Year category — for a grand career total of 51 Grammy nods.
Of her previous 46 nominations, Beyoncé has won 17. Parton has won 7. Classical conductor Sir Goerg Solti holds the record with 31 Grammy wins. Other artists with more Grammy wins than Beyoncé include Alison Krause (27 wins), U2 (22 wins), Stevie Wonder (22 wins), and Kanye West (21 wins).
Still, Beyoncé is still young and could overtake them all. And something tells us that she just might do that!