Clarence Avant Obituary, Death – Clarence Avant, often referred to as the ‘Black Godfather’ of the music industry, passed away peacefully at the age of 92 at his home in Los Angeles on August 13, 2023. His illustrious career spanned several decades and left an indelible mark on the world of music, entertainment, politics, and beyond. Avant’s journey from a segregated upbringing to becoming a legendary Grammy-winning executive, concert promoter, and manager is a testament to his resilience and groundbreaking contributions to the industry.
Avant’s legacy was defined by his revolutionary business leadership, which earned him the moniker ‘Black Godfather.’ He was a trailblazer who shattered barriers and made the impossible possible. Throughout his career, he was a mentor, manager, label owner, concert organizer, event producer, and even a political advisor. He worked with an array of iconic artists, including Bill Withers, Jay-Z, Whitney Houston, Little Willie John, L.A. Reid, Babyface, and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Avant’s influence extended far beyond music, as he served as an unofficial advisor to multiple U.S. presidents, including Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George Bush, and Barack Obama.
His impact on the music industry was profound. Avant launched Sussex Records in the late 1960s, a label that achieved success with hits like Dennis Coffey’s “Scorpio.” He also played a pivotal role in the career of Bill Withers, who released his early hits like “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Lean on Me,” and “Use Me” on the Sussex label. Furthermore, Avant’s tenure as the chairman of Motown Records during the 1990s showcased his ability to adapt and thrive in the ever-changing landscape of the music industry.
Tragically, Avant’s life was marred by personal loss when his wife, Jacqueline Avant, was shot and killed during a home invasion in December 2021. Despite this heart-wrenching event, Avant’s legacy continued to shine as he pressed forward, leaving an enduring impact on generations to come.
Avant’s remarkable journey was captured in the 2019 documentary titled “The Black Godfather,” produced by his son-in-law, Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos. The documentary shed light on his incredible achievements and the influential roles he played in the lives of countless artists and industry professionals.
As the music world mourns the loss of Clarence Avant, his legacy lives on through the artists he guided to stardom, the records he produced, and the barriers he broke down. His determination, leadership, and unwavering spirit will continue to inspire future generations of musicians, entrepreneurs, and changemakers.
The ‘Black Godfather’ may have left this world, but his impact will resonate for generations, reminding us that with courage, vision, and determination, one individual can transform an entire industry and leave an indelible mark on history.