A consummate music industry executive, Antonio "L.A." Reid mentored rising stars and turned them into among the biggest-selling artists of all time. As the co-founder of LaFace Records, Reid brought urban music into the mainstream by signing an impressive roster of R&B artists such as Toni Braxton, Usher, and TLC. Reid worked his magic once again as the head of Arista Records by introducing the world to the hit-making talents of Avril Lavigne, Pink, and Ciara. After Reid took full reign over the Island Def Jam Music Group in 2004, the music mogul oversaw the triumphant return of Mariah Carey with the multi-platinum and Grammy Award-winning album "The Emancipation of Mimi" (2005), the meteoric rise of controversial rapper Kanye West, and the discovery of teen pop heartthrob Justin Bieber. In 2011, Reid left his plum position at Island Def Jam after he was handpicked by Simon Cowell to judge aspiring singers on the reality competition series "The X Factor" (Fox, 2011-14). With his innate knack for finding superstars, Reid remained an influential figure in music as well as an instrumental force in the entertainment industry.
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.
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Founded LaFace Records with Kenny `Babyface¿ Edmonds through a joint venture with Arista Records
Formed the Hitco Publishing Group as a joint venture with Windswept Music
Sold his remaining stake in LaFace Records to parent company BMG
Succeeded his mentor, Clive Davis, as President and CEO of Arista Records
Served as the Chairman and CEO of The Island Def Jam Music Group
Became the head of the newly formed Epic Label Group
Joined Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger as a judge on the U.S. version of "The X Factor" (Fox)