'Black Godfather' Clarence Avant Passes Away at 92

A music industry great has recently passed away.

According to NBC New York, the man called the “Black Godfather” Clarence Avant has died at the age of 92 years old based on a statement from his family. He reportedly died peacefully at his Los Angeles home on Sunday.

“It is with a heavy heart that the Avant/Sarandos family announce the passing of Clarence Alexander Avant,” according to a written statement from Avant’s immediate family, his children, Nicole and Alex, and son-in-law Ted Sarandos, who is the Co-CEO of Netflix. “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.”

This sad news comes less than two years after his wife, Jacqueline Avant, was killed in a home invasion in November 2021. He married her back in 1967.

The 92-year-old trailblazer had just been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2021. There is a 2019 Netflix documentary, The Black Godfather that was critically acclaimed that told the story of Avant. His daughter, Nicole Avant is married to Netflix CEO Sarandos, who produced the documentary.

The documentary showcases Clarence’s influence on the recording industry, which includes founding Sussex Records in 1969 where he signed music legend Bill Withers. The film also recalls how Avant went up against Dick Clark after the American Bandstand icon tried to launch a rival Black television program to go up against Don Cornelius‘ Soul Train. Avant convinced ABC to back off of Clark’s venture, which allowed Soul Train to remain successful.

In the 1970s, Avant was also the founder of Tabu Records, which led to the signing of Kool & the Gang. Tabu Records was also responsible for the careers of famed music producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis as well as Alexander O’Neal and the S.O.S. Band. Avant was instrumental in promoting Michael Jackson’s first solo tour, Bad, which became one of the largest tours of all time.

Later, as chairman of the board at Motown Records, Avant served as an executive producer on such films as 1977’s Deliver Us from Evil, 1989’s Living Large, and 1994’s Jason’s Lyric. Building a multimedia portfolio, he worked to capitalize on the digital boom as chairman of the site Urban Box Office.

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