Clarence Avant

Clarence Avant, The ‘Black Godfather’ Of Music’ Passes Away At 92 At His Los Angeles Home

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, according to a statement from his family. He reportedly died peacefully at his Los Angeles home on August 13, 2023. 

“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, 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.”

Avant’s wife, Jacqueline Avant, was killed in a home invasion in November 2021. They were married in 1967.

Avant was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2021. The critically acclaimed 2019 Netflix documentary, The Black Godfather, told his story. 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 founded of Tabu Records, which led to the signing of Kool & the Gang. Tabu Records and launched the careers of famed music producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, as well as Alexander O’Neal and the SOS Band. Avant was instrumental in promoting Michael Jackson‘s first solo tour, Bad, which became one of the largest tours ever.

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.

In 2008, Clarence Avant received the BLACK ENTERPRISE trailblazer award for his business prowess in the entertainment industry. His company was also recognized on the BE 100‘s list of the nation’s largest Black companies.