By AFRO Staff
Music mogul Clarence Avant also known as “The Black Godfather” passed at 92 years old. The star maker who worked with the likes of Bill Withers, Michael Jackson and Muhammad Ali inspired thousands across the span of his lifetime.
“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,” said his children, Nicole and Alex Avant, and son-in-law, Ted Sarandos, in a public statement.
“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.”
Avant’s professional career is steeped in success. He had humble beginnings in North Carolina where started out managing Little Willie John, Jimmy Smith and Freddie Hubbard.
In the 1960s, Avant brokered the sale of Stax Record and founded one of the first Black-owned radio stations, KAGB-FM, in Los Angeles the following decade.
Avant most notably served as chairman of Motown Records in 1993 after its sale to Polygram and managed the Interior Music Group publishing company until 2018.
“Clarence’s extraordinary contribution to music and the barriers he broke throughout his career are unrivaled. He was the mentor to all Black executives in the music industry for decades, providing invaluable guidance and support while always standing up for equal rights,” shared music legend Clive Davis, on Instagram. “Clarence was humane and fair and inspired love and respect from all who knew him. I personally loved him and will miss him forever.”
Due to his undeniable impact on the industry, Avant was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2021. His other accolades include the NAACP Thurgood Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007 and the Trustee Award from the Recording Academy in 2008.
“RIP to The Black Godfather Clarence Avant, thank you for all the wisdom you’ve shared and the path you paved for artists like myself,” Clifford “TI” Harris” wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
While the executive broke many barriers in the entertainment industry he also left his mark politically by aiding several sitting U.S. presidents as an adviser and fundraiser.
“He was skillful, savvy, warm, and wise. It was impossible to spend time with Clarence Avant and not come away feeling more positive and wanting to follow his example. Hillary and I just loved him,” Bill Clinton shared on the social media platform, X. “We give thanks for his long, good life and our decades of friendship, and we’re grateful that his legacy will endure — in the music he helped bring into the world, and in all those who were touched by his compassion, mentorship, and generosity.”
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