The “Godfather of Black Music” Clarence Avant Has Passed Away

clarence avant

According to reports, iconic music executive Clarence Avant has passed away at his home in Los Angeles. He was born in 1931, making him 92 years-old.

Known as the “Godfather of Black Music,” Avant went from nightclub manager to major music mogul. In the 1960’s, he managed Lalo Schifrin and Jimmy Smith before founding two record labels which produced Bill Withers, Sixto Rodriguez, and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis.

He helped broker the sale of the legendary Stax Records and eventually became chairman of the board of Motown Records, as well as the  first African-American board member at PolyGram.

An actor and producer, Avant was also known for The Color Purple (1985)Jason’s Lyric (1994) and Deliver Us from Evil (1975).

Avant was married to Jacqueline Avant, who was tragically shot dead during a burglary attempt at the couple’s Los Angeles home; she was 81.

“It is with a heavy heart that the Avant/Sarandos family announce the passing of Clarence Alexander Avant,” a quote from his family said in the Variety report. “Through his revolutionary business leadership, Clarence became affectionately known as ‘the Black Godfather’ in the worlds of music, entertainment, politics, and sports.”

One week ago, his daughter Nicole Avant shared a reels celebrating what would have been her parent’s 56th wedding anniversary:


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Nicole Avant (@nicoleavantofficial)

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said, “Clarence Avant leaves a legacy that will inspire music and culture forever. Mr. Avant gave so much to Los Angeles — producing a sound that influenced generations while ceaselessly fighting for civil rights and equal treatment under the law. I had the great fortune to have been able to engage Mr. Avant in insightful and valuable conversations about the top issues that our city and nation were facing and I will always be grateful for the time we shared. Mr. and Mrs. [Jacqueline] Avant changed Los Angeles with their vision, their spirit and their philanthropy. My thoughts are with the Avant family and all who mourn this massive loss.

In 2019, Netflix released a music superstar and politician studded documentary about Clarence’s career.

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