Clarence Avant, renowned as the “Black Godfather,” breathed his last on Sunday, at the age of 92, at his residence in Los Angeles. A luminary, whose indelible mark spanned across the realms of music, sports, entertainment, and politics, Avant’s legacy remains etched in the stone of cultural history. While the exact cause of his passing was not disclosed, his impact on the world is unmistakable.
Moreover, Avant’s journey through the corridors of influence commenced in the 1960s when he managed notable artists such as Lalo Schifrin and Jimmy Smith. However, his ambitions extended beyond artist management.
He established two record labels, introducing the world to talents like Bill Withers, Sixto Rodriguez, and the legendary duo Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. The scope of Avant’s reach was immense; he orchestrated the sale of the iconic Stax Records in the late ’60s. Decades later, he ascended to the position of chairman at Motown Records and subsequently became the first African-American board member at PolyGram, underscoring his trailblazing journey in an industry historically marked by diversity gaps. Yet, Avant’s life was not without profound challenges.
The tragic loss of his wife, Jacqueline, in a home invasion two years ago cast a shadow of grief over his accomplishments. Nevertheless, Avant persevered, driven by his passion for positive change. His contributions earned him accolades such as the Thurgood Marshall Lifetime Achievement award by the NAACP in 2007 and the Recording Academy’s Trustees award. The latter recognized individuals whose behind-the-scenes contributions have significantly shaped the world of music.
Avant’s story was encapsulated in the 2019 Netflix documentary, “The Black Godfather,” which shed light on his unparalleled journey. Sadly, Clarence Avant’s departure leaves a void, but his legacy endures through the lives he touched. As a loving family and a vast network of friends and associates mourn his passing, they also celebrate the enduring impact of a man who changed the world and will undoubtedly continue to influence generations to come.
Video is Courtesy of Fox 61