Music biz mega mogul, CLARENCE AVANT died on Sunday, 13th August, aged 92. He died at home in Los Angeles just 20 months after his wife was shot and killed by an intruder in their Beverly Hills home. Such was Avant’s standing the music world that he was often referred to as “The Godfather of Black Music”.
He began his long and distinguished career as a nightclub manager before becoming manager of Little Willie John . That link brought him more clients including Lalo Schifrin, Creed Taylor, Sarah Vaughan and Kim Weston. He founded records labels like Sussex (the launch pad for Bill Withers) and Tabu (famous, of course for launching the careers of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis as a songwriting team).
In the late 80s Avant worked with LA Reid and Babyface as they launched LaFace Records and he was main promoter for Michael Jackson’s mega tours. He became Motown chairman in 1993 and outside music he also worked with American football player Jim Brown in his acting career and US presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Indeed Clinton said: “The guy’s a rock in every way. His advice, per word, is worth more than anyone I ever dealt with.”
Clarence Avant is survived by his daughter, Nicole Avant, a former US ambassador to the Bahamas and the wife of Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos; and his son, Alexander.
Music legend Quincy Jones, in tribute, said: “Everyone in this business has been by Clarence’s desk, if they’re smart. He gets things done but doesn’t beat his chest or look for credit.”