The 'Black Godfather of music' Clarence Avant dies aged 92

Clarence Avant, widely known as ‘the Black Godfather’ of the entertainment industry, has died aged 92.

His family confirmed the news and said Avant died ‘gently’ at home in LA on Sunday.

Avant’s son-in-law Ted Sarandos, who is Netflix’s co-CEO, and other family members said in a statement that their ‘hearts were heavy’ as they shared the news.

The statement said in full: ‘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.’

In 2021, Avant’s wife of 54 years, Jacqueline Avant, was shot and killed in their LA home by an intruder.

Not only a trailblazing music executive but also a producer, Avant was the subject of Netflix’s 2019 documentary The Black Godfather. 

From Barack Obama and Snoop Dogg to Quincy Jones and Jamie Foxx, there was no shortage of A-listers popping up in the documentary to sing Avant’s praises. 

Entertainment industry titan Avant was born in South Carolina in 1931 before moving to New Jersey. 

He went on to found Sussex Records in the 1970s and in the 80s created label Tabu.

Throughout his storied career, Avant also managed artists including Lalo Schifrin and Little Willie John and promoted Michael Jackson’s Bad tour.

In 2016, Avant was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, with Leron Gubler, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce president, saying at the time that Avant had played ‘a big part in the history of American music’.

Speaking at the time, Jamie Foxx said of Avant: ‘I remember meeting Clarence for the first time. It was like meeting the principal. 

‘But I got a chance to meet an absolute legend who embraced me like a family member. The footprints you’ve left in the sand will never be washed away. We love you.’

He is survived by his daughter Nicole Avant, her husband Ted Sarandos and their son, Alexander. 

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