Hall Of Famer Clarence Avant “Godfather of Black Music” Passed Away At 92
via ABC7 / Youtube
Clarence Avant, the veteran recording and entertainment executive known as the “Godfather of Black Music” who influenced and guided the careers of Quincy Jones, Snoop Dogg, Whitney Houston, and more, died on Sunday at his Los Angeles home at the age of 92.
Avant’s son Alex, daughter Nicole, and son-in-law Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos shared announced the Grammy-winning executive’s death in a statement on Monday.
“Through his revolutionary business leadership, Clarence became affectionately known as ‘The Black Godfather’ in the worlds of music, entertainment, politics, and sports.”
No cause of death was revealed as of press time.
Avant’s death came just 20 months after his wife, philanthropist Jacqueline Avant, was shot and killed in a home invasion in Beverly Hills in the early morning hours of Dec. 1, 2021.
During his stellar career as a music executive and recording industry insider, Avant helped countless producers, executives, and artists such as Jay-Z, Houston, Bill Withers, Sarah Vaughn, Babyface, Terry Lewis & Jimmy Jam, LA Reid, Lionel Richie, Irving Azoff, Queen Latifah, Sean Combs, Jamie Foxx, and many more.
His mark was felt deeply in being a music label executive, himself founding the short-lived Venture Records. Avant would later broker the sale of legendary Stax Records; establish Sussex Records; co-promote Michael Jackson’s first solo world tour in the 80s; chair Motown; and purchase KAGB-FM, the first Black-owned FM radio station in LA.
“He’s the perennial godfather of our business,” Jones said of Avant in a 2006 interview with Billboard.
In 2021, he was given the Ahmet Ertegun Award by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. “He’s a teacher, he’s a master communicator, he’s the perfect marriage between street sense and common sense,” Richie, who inducted Avant, said when the legendary executive received the award.
“What he did for us, the sons and daughters of the Afro-American community, he brought us some understanding of what the music business was all about,” Richie added.
Avant was the subject of a 2019 Netflix documentary The Black Godfather, produced by his daughter Nicole and directed by Reginald Hudlin. The documentary detailed his collaboration with musical and political bigwigs ranging from Richie and Snoop Dogg to even former US presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, who expressed their admiration for him in the film.
“He puts people together, and they do what they do… How do you put together a life from knowing people? I’ve never seen him with a tool,” Withers said in the documentary.
“I want people to be inspired to help others and share the blessing,” Avant’s daughter Nicole told The Hollywood Reporter at the film’s premiere. “Sometimes real power is behind the scenes, helping people achieve their dreams.”
“Clarence leaves behind a loving family and a sea of friends and associates that have changed the world and will continue to change the world for generations to come,” the statement announced on Monday continued. “The joy of his legacy eases the sorrow of our loss.”