Clarence Avant, known within the music industry as “The Black Godfather,” has died. The famed music executive “passed away gently” on Aug. 13, his family shared in a statement obtained by Fox News Digital. He was 92.

“It is with a heavy heart that the Avant/Sarandos family announce the passing of Clarence Alexander Avant,” his children Alex and Nicole, as well as Nicole’s husband, co-CEO of Netflix, Ted Sarandos announced.

“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.”


Jacqueline Avant soft smiles in a black outfit next to Clarence Avant in a brown jacket and printed shirt at a SAG-AFTRA Foundation Patron of the Artists Awards

Clarence Avant was predeceased by his wife Jaqueline, who was murdered in a burglary in 2021. (Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SAG-AFTRA Foundation)

Avant was predeceased in death by his wife Jacqueline, who was tragically murdered in the couple’s Beverly Hills home in 2021. She was shot and later pronounced dead at the hospital following a burglary at their home in the middle of the night.

A pioneer within the industry, Avant was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2021. He was presented with the Ahmet Ertegun Award by Lionel Richie during the ceremony.

Lionel Richie holds a microphone as he presents Clarence Avant with an award at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction

Lionel Richie, left, was on stage to present Clarence Avant with the Ahmet Ertegun Award during his Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony. (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)


As a mentee of manager Joe Glaser, who represented artists including Louis Armstrong and Barbra Streisand, Avant began to make a name for himself.

“Mr. Glaser would have me go with him to these dog shows,” Avant told Variety in 2016. “And you’ve got to imagine I was the only Black person at the goddamn dog show. He also had these 16 seats behind the visiting dugout at Yankee Stadium, and whenever he’d take me I would try to walk to the back row, and he’d grab me and say, ‘Godd— it, sit your a– up here with me.’”

Breaking ground as a manger in the 1950s, Avant worked with clients including Sarah Vaughan, Little Willie John and composer Lalo Schifrin, who wrote the theme to “Mission: Impossible.” In the 1970s, he was an early patron of Black-owned radio stations, and in the 1990s, he headed Motown after founder Berry Gordy Jr. sold the company.

Quincy Jones and Clarence Avant hold hands at Clive Davis' 2019 Pre-GRAMMY Gala

Quincy Jones, left, and Clarence Avant were great friends for several decades. (Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Images)

Avant, who was born in North Carolina, became especially close to Quincy Jones in the 1960s, when Jones was vice president of Mercury Records.

“Everyone in this business has been by Clarence’s desk, if they’re smart,” Jones previously said of Avant.

Jay-Z in a pink suit puts his arm around Clarence Avant and Diddy puts in a white suit and black shirt puts his arm around Clarence on the other side

Clarence Avant, center, posed with Jay-Z, left, and Sean “Diddy” Combs in 2020. (evin Mazur/Getty Images for Roc Nation)


In 1971, under Avant Garde Broadcasting Inc., the manager-turned-businessman purchased KTYM-FM, the first African-American owned FM radio station.

Throughout his life, Avant remained active in politics and advocacy.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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