Music industry legend Clarence Avant has passed away at the age of 92. Known as the 'Godfather of Black Music' he is said to have died peacefully in his home on August 13, 2023.
“It is with a heavy heart that the Avant/Sarandos family announce the passing of Clarence Alexander Avant,” the statement from his children, Nicole and Alexander and son-in-law Ted Sarandos reads. “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.”
To truly pay homage to his list of accomplishments, would take days. In the 1960s and 70s, Clarence Avant was most known for founding multiple record labels which would end up being the home of music icons Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, as well as Bill Withers. Over the course of his career he served as a mentor and consultant to many of the industry's top producers, artists and more, including: Quincy Jones, David Geffen, Jay-Z, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Pharrell Williams, Whitney Houston, Antonio “L.A.” Reid, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Lionel Richie, Jimmy Iovine, Irving Azoff, Reginald Hudlin, Sylvia Rhone, Queen Latifah, Jheryl Busby, Jon Platt, Sean Combs, Snoop Dogg and Jamie Foxx.
In 2019, Netflix released a documentary, "The Black Godfather", which chronicled Avant's storied multi-decade career in music, as told by those he worked with over the years.
“One of the things that he understands is that there are different kinds of power,” former President Barack Obama, who is one of the many well-known names featured in the film, said. “There’s the power that needs the spotlight, but there is also the power that comes from being behind the scenes.”
In late 2021, the music giant faced an unimaginable tragedy. His wife of 54 years, Jacqueline Avant, was killed during an invasion of the couple's Beverly Hills home. He is survived by his daughter Nicole and son, Alexander.
EBONY would like to offer condolences to the family and friends of Clarence Avant. May he rest in peace.