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Clarence Avant ‘Black Godfather’ Of Music Dead At 92

Passing of Music Icon: Clarence Avant, Revered as the ‘Black Godfather,’ Dies at 92

Clarence Avant
Image Source: Clarence Avant arrives for Disney's 'The Lion King' World Premiere on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, CA (DFree @ Shutterstock)

Clarence Avant, often referred to as the “Black Godfather,” passed away at the age of 92 at his home in Los Angeles. His remarkable life and career spanned across various fields, including music, entertainment, sports, and politics. Avant’s contributions left an indelible mark on the industries he touched, and his legacy is remembered as one of mentorship, innovation, and advocacy.

Avant’s achievements were multifaceted and impactful. Starting as a nightclub manager, he managed prominent musicians like Lalo Schifrin and Jimmy Smith in the 1960s. He founded record labels that introduced talents like Bill Withers and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis to the world. He played a significant role in the sale of Stax Records and became the first African-American board member at PolyGram. Avant’s influence extended to politics, as he advised several U.S. presidents, including Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George Bush, and Barack Obama.

One of his most lasting legacies was his role as a mentor in the music industry. Avant guided and inspired figures such as L.A. Reid, Babyface, Sylvia Rhone, and Jimmy Iovine. His impact was also seen in other areas, as he encouraged NFL star Jim Brown to pursue an acting career. He was unafraid to stand up for black culture and took active consulting roles with MGM and ABC in the 1970s.

Avant’s commitment to his community and his passion for advancing black culture were central to his work. He launched one of the first fully black-owned radio stations and held advisory positions that aimed to uplift and promote positive change.

His wisdom, mentorship, and support were highly valued in the music industry, and many consider him a guiding force. In his own words, Avant’s approach to life was to “aim high,” which he attributed to the lessons he learned from his mentor, Joe Glaser.

Despite facing challenges, including the hardships of segregation, Avant’s determination and vision propelled him to success. His journey included managing iconic artists, founding record labels, leading major companies, and advocating for social change. Avant’s remarkable story serves as an inspiration and a testament to the power of ambition, resilience, and the pursuit of positive impact.

Clarence Avant’s influence extended far beyond the entertainment and music realms. He was an advocate for change and progress on a larger scale. Avant’s involvement in politics and his commitment to social justice were emblematic of his dedication to making a difference.

Avant’s role as an advisor to multiple U.S. presidents showcased his ability to bridge gaps and foster understanding between different spheres of society. His advice was sought not only on matters of entertainment but also on issues that shaped the nation. Avant understood the power of his platform and used it to amplify important causes.

His advocacy for civil rights and his efforts to promote diversity and equality paved the way for others to follow. Avant’s achievements went beyond personal success; he was a trailblazer who opened doors for future generations to pursue their dreams, regardless of their background or ethnicity.

In addition to his professional accomplishments, Avant’s personal life was marked by love, family, and resilience. Despite facing tragedy with the loss of his wife, Jacqueline Gray, in a tragic incident, Avant remained steadfast in his commitment to his family and his community.

As a mentor, Avant’s impact continues to reverberate through the artists, executives, and individuals he guided. He instilled a sense of determination, integrity, and excellence in those who crossed his path. Avant’s advice was not just about achieving success; it was about using that success to uplift others and drive positive change.

The music and entertainment industry is just one facet of the multifaceted legacy that Clarence Avant leaves behind. His story serves as a reminder that a single individual, driven by passion and purpose, can catalyze transformation on a grand scale. Avant’s “take shots” attitude encapsulated his fearless approach to life and his unwavering belief in the potential for progress.

Clarence Avant’s passing is a loss not only for the music world but for the broader landscape of social change and advocacy. His journey is a testament to the importance of pushing boundaries, breaking barriers, and leaving an indelible mark on the world. As his legacy lives on, so does his call for individuals to aim high, make a difference, and create a better future for all.

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