Clarence Avant Dies: ‘Black Godfather’ of Music Was 92

Clarence Avant (Deposit Photos)

Clarence Avant, the renowned music and entertainment executive known as the “Black Godfather,” died on Sunday, his family confirmed in a statement. He was 92.

Avant is survived by his children Alex and Nicole Avant, as well as his son-in-law Ted Sarandos. In their statement, Avant’s family revealed that the late entertainment mogul passed away at his home in Los Angeles.

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

Avant’s family added, “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.”

Related: Jackie Avant, Wife of Music Exec Clarence Avant, Killed in Beverly Hills Home Invasion

Born in North Carolina, Avant established his position in the entertainment industry after relocating to Los Angeles during the late 1960s.

He founded Sussex Records, a label that played a pivotal role in launching the careers of Bill Withers and other accomplished artists. He also went on to acquire KAGB-FM, establishing it as the first Black-owned FM radio station in Los Angeles.

Avant’s influence reverberated through generations of artists, from L.A. Reid and Babyface to icons like Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones. He played an integral part in propelling talents in Motown, jazz, and hip-hop at its inception.

His contributions earned him many accolades throughout the years, including the Industry Icon Award at the Grammys in 2019, and a coveted induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2021.

Amidst his triumphs, Avant faced personal tragedy in 2021 when his wife, Jacqueline Avant — whom he had been married to since 1967 — was killed during an attempted burglary at their home in Beverly Hills. She was 81.