L.A. Reid Biography


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Genres: Soul/R&B


Born on June 7, 1956 in Cincinnati, OH, Antonio Reid was raised by his mother Emma Reid, who worked as a seamstress and interior decorator. He learned to play the drums as a young man and joined the marching band at Hughes Center High School in Cincinnati. A fellow band member came up with Reid's nickname "L.A." after he wore a Los Angeles Dodgers T-shirt. Reid jumpstarted his musical career in the 1970s as a member of a local funk rock group called Pure Essence. In the 1980s, he joined the R&B band The Deele, which included Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds. The Deele scored its biggest hit with the 1988 ballad "Two Occasions." Produced by Reid and Edmonds for the group's third album, Eyes of a Stranger (1987), "Two Occasions" cracked the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Both Reid and Edmonds parlayed their success with The Deele into writing hits for other artists, including Pebbles' "Girlfriend" (1987) and The Whispers' "Rock Steady" (1987). The duo eventually left The Deele in 1988 and formed LaFace Records.

Funded by parent company Arista Records and its legendary creator Clive Davis, Atlanta-based LaFace Records produced artists who appealed to the urban and Top 40 markets, including soulful singer Toni Braxton, female hip-hop group TLC, and R&B heartthrob Usher. Reid and Edmonds nurtured these talented artists all the way to platinum-selling records, sold out concert tours, and numerous Grammy Awards. In 1999, Reid took intensive MBA training courses at Harvard Business School's prestigious Advance Management Program, which helped the mogul land a position as President and CEO of Arista the following year. One of the first artists he signed was Canadian singer Avril Lavigne, whose debut album Let Go (2002) sold over six million copies and turned the artist into a teen music icon. Fellow hit-makers Pink and Ciara were also signed to Arista under Reid's leadership. Usher, one of Reid's LaFace discoveries, released his landmark album Confessions, the biggest selling album of 2004 and the second best-selling album of the 2000s.

Following his successful stint at Arista, Reid took over as chairman and CEO of The Island Def Jam Music Group (a merger of Island Records and Def Jam Recordings) in 2004. As an executive producer, Reid was highly involved in the long awaited comeback of Mariah Carey, who released the multi-platinum album, The Emancipation of Mimi in 2005. After proving his golden touch with Carey's comeback, Reid oversaw the success of breakout artists, from outspoken rapper Kanye West, to rock group The Killers, to dance pop princess Rihanna. In 2009, Reid offered a recording contract to a young Canadian singer named Justin Bieber, whose debut release, My World, became the first album to have seven songs on the Billboard Hot 100. Ironically, it was Reid's protégé Usher who discovered Bieber and turned him into a teen pop phenomenon. In 2011, Reid stepped down as Chairman and CEO of Island Def Jam to appear as a judge alongside Simon Cowell on "The X Factor." The reality competition series, based on a popular British show created by Cowell, sought out to find music's next superstar.