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 August 15, 2023

Music executive and film producer Clarence Avant dies at 92

Music executive and film producer Clarence Avant has passed away at the age of 92, Breitbart reported.  Avant's prolific career earned him the moniker "Godfather of black entertainment."

Avant's death was confirmed Monday by son-in-law Ted Sarandos, though no cause of death has been released. "Through his revolutionary business leadership, Clarence became affectionately known as 'the Black Godfather' in the worlds of music, entertainment, politics, and sports," Sarandos, who is also the Co-CEO of Netflix, said in a statement.

"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," Sarandos added.

His passing happened less than two years after his wife, Jacqueline Avant, was fatally shot in the early morning hours on Dec. 1, 2021. A home intruder entered their Beverly Hills home and took the life of his bride of 54 years.

She was not targeted but rather the victim of a burglary gone wrong, according to Variety. Jacqueline Avant was remembered not only as his devoted wife but also for her philanthropy.

The couple has two grown children together. Their daughter, Nicole Avant, is married to Sarandos and is a philanthropist in her own right and a film producer, political adviser, and former U.S. Ambassador.

Their son Alex Avant is a Los Angeles-based actor, agent, and producer. The family's talent and penchant for great achievement apparently flow from its patriarch.

Clarence Avant began his illustrious career in the late 1960s in Los Angeles. He formed Sussex Records and found success by signing acts like soul singer Bill Withers.

He also made history when he purchased the Los Angeles radio station KAGB-FM, which became the only black-owned property on the FM dial at the time. However, Clarence Avant would arguably make his biggest impact on the sports world.

Baseball great Hank Aaron would later credit Clarence Avant for his career. "Without Clarence Avant, there is no Hank Aaron," the legendary ballplayer said in the documentary "The Black Godfather."

While Aaron made his mark on the field by breaking Babe Ruth's home run record, Clarence Avant hit a different kind of historical benchmark behind the scenes. Clarence Avant successfully brokered an endorsement deal for Aaron that was the largest in sports history up until that time.

He would once again make his mark in music during the 1980s when he founded Tabu Records and signed the decade's iconic acts. Notably, Clarence Avant was Michael Jackson's promotor for his 1988 "Bad" tour, the King of Pop's first as a solo artist.

In 1993, he became Motown Records chairman while running his music publishing operations Avant Garde Music and Interior Music Group, which were later sold to Universal. Clarence Avant capped off his successful career in 2021 with his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and receiving the Industry Icon Award at the Grammys that same year.

By all accounts, Clarence Avant lived a fruitful and achievement-filled life. Still, his loss will be mourned by those who loved him, in and out of the industry.

Written By:
Christine Favocci

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