L.A. Reid

L.A. Reid
Photo by Erika Goldring / WireImage

Antonio "L.A." Reid was born June 7, 1956 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He earned the nickname "L.A." from a guitar player in his band who called him that because of a Los Angeles Dodgers t-shirt he was wearing. L.A. Reid was a drummer in high school. He cites listening to James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone, and Led Zeppelin as significant musical influences while growing up. His first appearance on record was on a 45 released in the mid-1970s by the Cincinnati funk rock group Pure Essence.

In the early 1980s, he joined the Cincinnati based R&B band The Deele. A fellow member of the group was L.A. Reid's soon to be production and business partner Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds. The Deele hit #3 on the R&B chart with the single "Body Talk" off their debut album Street Beat in 1983. In 1988 the band climbed into the top 10 of the pop singles chart with their signature hit "Two Occasions."


While members of the Deele, L.A., and Babyface began working on songwriting and production for other artists. They put together the 1987 top 10 pop hit "Girlfriend" for L.A. Reid's eventual wife, Pebbles. L.A and Babyface also wrote and produced the Whispers' top 10 hit "Rock Steady." In 1988 the pair left the Deele to form the record label LaFace. The label was formed in cooperation with Arista Records and received funding from Arista label head Clive Davis. LaFace soon became known for releasing pop-friendly R&B music. Among the successful artists given a start at LaFace are OutKast, Pink, and Usher.

L.A. Reid also formed the Hitco music publishing group in 1996 aiming to bring a new generation of top songwriters. Among the young talent, Hitco signed was Shakir Stewart who ultimately became a senior vice president at the Island Def Jam label group. 

L.A. Reid Moves To Island Def Jam

In 2000 L.A. Reid was made the successor to Clive Davis as president of Arista. In that role, he continued to have success with new artists such as Avril Lavigne and Ciara. In 2004 major labels Sony and BMG merged resulting in L.A. Reid being released from his contract as head of BMG subsidiary Arista. While serving as president of Arista, L.A. Reid helped oversee such massive album hits as Usher's Confessions and Outkast's Speakerboxxx / The Love Below. They both sold over 10 million copies.

When Sony merged with BMG, L.A. Reid was released from his Arista contract. He was quickly hired to be chairman and CEO of the Island Def Jam Music Group under major label Universal. L.A. Reid is given significant credit for helping revive Mariah Carey's career with the 2005 release of the album. Under his leadership, highly successful new artists were cultivated at the label including Justin Bieber and Rihanna. He also oversaw the comeback of Jennifer Lopez with her 2011 hit album Love?

X Factor US

In March 2011 it was announced that L.A. Reid would be one of the four judges for Simon Cowell's US version of his UK hit show. He took part in two of the short-lived show's three seasons. L.A. Reid served as a mentor for the second season's ultimate winner, country singer Tate Stevens. The debut self-titled album was a top 5 country album chart hit.

Back To Epic Records

In July 2011 L.A. Reid became chairman and CEO of a newly restructured Epic Records. It became one of three main record labels under Sony Entertainment along with Columbia and RCA. Among the initial artists assigned to Epic were Avril Lavigne, Ciara, and Outkast. By 2014, Epic Records was home to more than 50 artists. In November 2014, Timbaland moved most of his marketing and distribution of his own work from Interscope to Epic. Mariah Carey reunited with L.A. Reid at Epic in January 2015, and Jennifer Lopez was added to the roster in March 2016.

In 2014, L.A. Reid served as the curator and executive producer for the posthumous Michael Jackson album Xscape. He hired a team of record producers led by Timbaland to remix and update the eight songs included. The album debuted at #2 on the US album chart and included the top 10 charting single "Love Never Felt So Good."

L.A. Reid released his bestselling autobiography Sing To Me in February 2016.