Diddy salutes the late “Godfather of Black Music,” Clarence Avant on Instagram. Diddy reflected on Avant’s life by posting a picture of Avant, JAY-Z, and himself from a Roc Nation Brunch. Another was Diddy hugging the late legend.
Clarence Avant was the definition of a free, fearless Black man.
He never allowed any level of adversity or limitation stop him from paving his own path and advocating for Black creators to be valued and respected at the highest level.
He was a very successful record executive, entrepreneur and dealmaker. But more importantly, he was the most trusted and reliable relationship anyone could have.
There wasn’t a problem he couldn’t solve, an answer he couldn’t find, or a resource he wasn’t willing to share.
He kicked down doors, shattered stereotypes, and showed all of us aspiring leaders that nothing is more important than impact.
Clarance Avant was the definition of leading by example and lifting your people up with you.
He was never selfish with information. He wanted to see us all win and would stand with us in the fight.
He was more than someone I looked up to, he became one of my most beloved mentors and friends who taught me how to always show up.
Clarence Avant always answered the call.
We will forever honor his legacy, cherish the memories, and continue to remind the world of his story.– Diddy
The world of music, entertainment, politics, and sports is collectively mourning the loss of an icon, as Clarence Alexander Avant, affectionately known as “The Black Godfather,” peacefully passed away at his Los Angeles residence on August 13, 2023, at the age of 92.
An official statement from Nicole Avant, Ted Sarandos, and Alex Avant reads: “It is with a heavy heart that the Avant/Sarandos family announce the passing of Clarence Alexander Avant. 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. Clarence passed away gently at home in Los Angeles on Sunday, August 13, 2023. He was 92.”
Born on February 25, 1931, in Greensboro, North Carolina, Avant’s remarkable journey traversed a landscape fraught with challenges and segregation. Rising through the ranks in the 1960s, he steered the careers of luminaries such as Little Willie John, jazz virtuosos Lalo Schifrin and Jimmy Smith and masterminded the historic sale of Stax Records in 1968.
Avant’s influence transcended music, extending into sports, film, and social progress. He played a pivotal role in shaping the trajectories of figures like Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Jackie Robinson, and Hank Aaron. His strategic prowess and negotiation skills led to groundbreaking deals that left an indelible mark on these realms.
In the 1980s, Avant’s creative vision flourished with the founding of Tabu Records, which contributed to the foundational fabric of hip-hop by producing releases that pioneering DJs sampled. His advisory role propelled the careers of super producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, leading to Janet Jackson’s iconic Control album.
Avant’s influence also reverberated in the political arena, where he sowed the seeds of early careers for Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter. His reach spanned across party lines, advising leaders on both sides of the aisle and showcasing his ability to unite diverse voices for common goals.
Throughout his storied career, Avant operated his music and publishing companies until 2018, when Universal Music Group acquired them. His legacy is etched in history, with honors including induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Industry Icon Award at the Grammys, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Rest in peace, Clarence Avant.