By Claudia Aroha, Senior Correspondent for DailyMail.com
13:06 14 August 2023, Updated 13:48 14 August 2023
- Clarence Avant, 92, is a Grammy Award-winning executive, concert promoter and manager who headed the legendary Motown Records in the 1990s.
- The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame described the music legend as ‘cool, passionate, confident and fearless – someone who makes the impossible possible’.
- Avant’s death comes 20 months after his wife, Jacqueline Avant, 54, was shot and killed during a home invasion at their $7M mansion in Beverly Hills.
‘Godfather of black music’ Clarence Avant has died aged 92 – almost two years after his wife was shot and killed by an intruder during a home invasion.
Avant — a legendary Grammy-winning executive, concert promoter and manager — died peacefully at home in Los Angeles on Sunday, his family announced.
The joy of his legacy softens the sorrow of our loss,’ his children said.
Throughout his stellar music executive career, he assisted artists including Bill Withers, Jay-Z, Whitney Houston, Little Willie John, L.A. Reed, Babyface, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis – and headed the legendary Motown Records in the 1990s.
Clarence’s daughter Nicole, 55, is married to Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos. Nicole was the Ambassador to the Bahamas appointed by then President Barack Obama in 2009.
In a statement announcing his death, the Avant Sarandos family said: ‘It is with heavy hearts 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 who have changed the world and will continue to change the world for generations to come.
‘The joy of his legacy lessens the sorrow of our loss.
Clarence passed away slowly on August 13, 2023 at home in Los Angeles.
The Motown fixture’s life and legacy were chronicled in the 2019 documentary The Black Godfather by his son-in-law Sarandos’ streaming service.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame described him as ‘cool, passionate, confident and fearless – someone who makes the impossible possible.
‘He served in a variety of roles during his illustrious career, including manager, label owner, concert promoter, event producer, political fundraiser and mentor.’
Avant’s career began in the 1950s when he worked as manager for Little Willie John and jazz arranger Jimmy Smith.
In late 1969, he launched Sussex Records, which soon had a top ten hit with Dennis Coffey’s Scorpio. The most notable artist in Sussex was Phil Withers, who released his first three records for the label, including Ain’t No Sunshine, Lean On Me and Use Me.
‘In 1971, Avant began broadcasting Avant Garde, one of the nation’s first black-owned radio stations.’
Known for Delivering Us From Evil in 1975, The Color Purple in 1985, and Jason’s Song in 1994, Story Exec was also a prolific producer and actor.
Avant also dabbled in the world of politics – serving as official and unofficial advisers to Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
He was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2016.
Avant’s death comes 20 months after his wife, Jacqueline Avant, 54, was shot and killed during a home invasion at their $7 million mansion in Beverly Hills.
Jacqueline is killed by career criminal Ariel Manor in a high-profile home invasion gone terribly wrong.
Beverly Hills police were called to the couple’s mansion in the gated community of Truesdale Estates at 2:30 a.m. on Dec. 1, 2021, after a 911 caller reported a gunshot wound, according to Beverly Hills Police Chief Mark Steinbrook.
Police arrived at the scene and found 81-year-old Jacqueline alive with a gunshot wound. She was taken to a local hospital where she died later that morning.
Clarence, then 90, was asleep at home at the time but was not injured. Jacqueline, who cops say was awake at her Bel-Air home, left empty-handed after startling the burglar, who was armed with an AR-15, prompting him to open fire.
Later, police found Manor, who was on parole at the time of the break-in, in the backyard of another Hollywood home he was trying to burglarize after he accidentally shot himself in the leg with the same gun used to kill him. .
The house was seven miles from the Avant residence. Police found Manor there, as well as evidence of a burglary at the home, and took him into custody.
Clarence Avant was born on February 25, 1931 in Greensboro, North Carolina – amid the challenges of segregation in the South.
He married Jacqueline Gray in 1967 and they had two children – Nicole Avant and Alex Avant, also an agent and producer based in Los Angeles.