Entertainment Icon and ‘Godfather of Black Music’ Clarence Avant Passes Away at Age 92


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The world of music, entertainment, politics, and sports is collectively mourning the loss of an icon, as Clarence Alexander Avant, affectionately known as “The Black Godfather,” peacefully passed away at his Los Angeles residence on August 13, 2023, at the age of 92.

An official statement from Nicole Avant, Ted Sarandos, and Alex Avant reads: “It is with a heavy heart that the Avant/Sarandos family announce the passing of Clarence Alexander Avant.  Through his revolutionary business leadership, Clarence became affectionately known as “The Black Godfather” in the worlds of music, entertainment, politics, and sports. 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 joy of his legacy eases the sorrow of our loss.  Clarence passed away gently at home in Los Angeles on Sunday, August 13, 2023. He was 92.”

Born on February 25, 1931, in Greensboro, North Carolina, Avant’s remarkable journey traversed a landscape fraught with challenges and segregation. Rising through the ranks in the 1960s, he steered the careers of luminaries such as Little Willie John, jazz virtuosos Lalo Schifrin and Jimmy Smith and masterminded the historic sale of Stax Records in 1968.

Avant’s influence transcended music, extending into sports, film, and social progress. He played a pivotal role in shaping the trajectories of figures like Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Jackie Robinson, and Hank Aaron. His strategic prowess and negotiation skills led to groundbreaking deals that left an indelible mark on these realms.

In the 1980s, Avant’s creative vision flourished with the founding of Tabu Records, which contributed to the foundational fabric of hip-hop by producing releases that pioneering DJs sampled. His advisory role propelled the careers of super producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, leading to Janet Jackson’s iconic Control album.

Avant’s influence also reverberated in the political arena, where he sowed the seeds of early careers for Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter. His reach spanned across party lines, advising leaders on both sides of the aisle and showcasing his ability to unite diverse voices for common goals.

Throughout his storied career, Avant operated his music and publishing companies until 2018, when Universal Music Group acquired them. His legacy is etched in history, with honors including induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Industry Icon Award at the Grammys, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Rest in peace, Clarence Avant.


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