On Sunday (Aug. 14), the music business misplaced a titan when Clarence Avant — dubbed the “Godfather of Black Music” — died at his dwelling in Los Angeles at age 92.
“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,” Avant’s household mentioned in an announcement. “The joy of his legacy eases the sorrow of our loss.”
That legacy looms giant: Within the wake of Avant’s passing, artists, executives and political leaders have been reacting to the lack of the legendary government, who helped launch the careers of essential skills similar to Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Invoice Withers, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Sean “Diddy” Combs and Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds. Avant additionally mentored youthful executives who grew to become business heavyweights themselves — amongst them, Antonio “L.A.” Reid and Sony Music Publishing chairman/CEO Jon Platt.
Avant’s contributions to the business had been so profound that he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Corridor of Fame in 2021 and was honored by the Recording Academy with the Grammy Salute to Trade Icons award in 2019, amongst quite a few different honors. However his contributions to the tradition prolonged past music into numerous different realms, together with politics (he famously slept within the Lincoln Bed room within the White Home after he helped Invoice Clinton get elected) and sports activities, working with athletes similar to Jim Brown (whom he helped transition right into a Hollywood performing profession), Jackie Robinson and Muhammad Ali.
Unsurprisingly, Avant’s dying prompted a flood of tributes from luminaries throughout a number of spheres. Under you will discover all of them.
Invoice and Hillary Clinton: “Hillary and I are deeply saddened by the passing of our pal Clarence Avant, whose legendary profession introduced artists and their music to tens of millions of individuals. He additionally used his success to open doorways of alternative to new generations of entrepreneurs and promoters. He was skillful, savvy, heat, and clever. It was unattainable to spend time with him and never come away feeling extra optimistic and desirous to comply with his instance. We simply liked him.
“We give thanks for his long, good life and our decades of friendship, and we’re grateful that his legacy will endure in the music he helped bring into the world, and in all those who were touched by his compassion, mentorship, and generosity. Our hearts are with Nicole, Alex and everyone else who loved and will miss him.”
Sir Lucian Grainge, chairman/CEO of Common Music Group: “Clarence Avant’s extraordinary musical legacy has been felt for many years and will likely be felt for many years to return. He will likely be remembered as each a superb catalyst and protector of tradition. His understated but highly effective affect transcended music, spanning the worlds of leisure, sports activities and politics. I’m profoundly grateful for his friendship and mentorship. We’ve misplaced an incomparable visionary whose brilliance, humor, irreverence, and love made the world a greater place.
On behalf of everybody at UMG, we provide our deepest condolences to Nicole, Ted and Alex and to their complete household.”
Jon Platt, chairman/CEO of Sony Music Publishing: “It is difficult to process the loss of Clarence Avant. Clarence was an ally and mentor to me and many others who followed the trail he blazed. As one of the leading architects of the Black entertainment business, he expanded opportunities for executives of color and supported us along our journey. Clarence Avant positively impacted my life the moment he walked into it, filling a void that I did not know existed. Clarence is the closest person to a father that I ever had. He often would say, “Life is about numbers…you’re born with a number, and you leave earth with a number…”. And he was proper, however what Clarence additionally confirmed me is life is concerning the variety of lives you influence while you’re right here. I’m endlessly grateful for Clarence’s robust love and encouragement. I’m additionally grateful to Mrs. Avant, Nicole, Alex, and Ted for sharing Clarence with all of us.”
Sean “Diddy” Combs: “Clarence Avant was an irreplaceable force in the music industry. He was a mentor and a personal friend whose influence is unparalleled. His visionary approach and unwavering dedication broke barriers for black artists, propelling them to new heights. As we honor this trailblazer, we are reminded of his enduring legacy that continues to live on, inspiring a generation of artists and shaping the industry.”
Pharrell Williams: “Clarence Avant was a visionary and a transcendent spirit. He’s the final word instance of what change appears to be like like, what architecting change appears to be like like, and what the success of change appears to be like like. He stared adversity within the face in climates and circumstances that weren’t welcoming to people who seemed like him. However via his expertise and relentless spirit within the pursuit to be one of the best of one of the best, he garnered the help and friendship of people that in any other case wouldn’t look in our route. He confirmed them what we might be, what we will do, and the way far more we will all obtain should you give us alternative. He has been behind so many musical greats, folks in and throughout the leisure business, and I’m so honored to have identified him. He was a Godfather, a Godfather to the Black dream and a Godfather to the American dream. There’ll by no means be one other like him.
“It’s my hope and wish that others will see what he’s done and try to go even further, because that’s what he wanted and that’s why he did what he did. He wanted to inspire. While running an extraordinary race in his lifetime, he passed the baton to us. The question now is how we’re going to honor him and what we will we do with the baton. I give honor to GOD, my savior, and I give honor to his family, friends, and the countless people who have been impacted by his presence and time on this planet. Continued blessings and favor to Nicole, Alex, and Ted. Last but not least, his spirit is amongst the stars up in the heavens with The Master. Some people use the phrase “passed away.” I don’t as a result of perhaps the time has handed, however I don’t know that you simply’re away. Clarence went again up from whence he got here…heaven. Blessings.”
Evan Lamberg, president of North America at Common Music Publishing Group: “Clarence Avant was an incredibly positive life game changer for anyone that was lucky enough to be in his orbit. Besides being a great music man and entertainment executive, he was one of the greatest civil and human rights leaders of our time. The world is a much better place, for all of us, because of Clarence Avant. My deepest condolences to his beautiful family. May he rest in eternal peace.”
Irving Azoff: “We have lost the godfather. The business would look nothing like this if it weren’t for Clarence. He had the biggest heart of any of us despite him trying to hide it! What a great man.”
L.A. Reid: “Within the wake of Clarence Avant’s passing, I discover it tough to place into phrases the depth of loss I really feel. Clarence was not only a music government and rights chief; he was certainly one of a sort, a real unique who possessed a real and profound look after others. My coronary heart goes out to his beloved youngsters, Nicole, and Alex, in addition to to the reminiscence of his late spouse Jacqueline.
“Clarence’s legacy is etched within the indelible marks he left on the music business and in his tireless efforts for the rights of us all. But, what really units him aside was his unwavering compassion and his means to attach with all folks on a private degree. He was the embodiment of sincerity, a rarity in a world usually marked by pretense. His absence will go away a void that can’t be simply stuffed.
“As we come to terms with this loss, let us celebrate the impact he made on countless lives and the love he shared. My thoughts and sympathies are with Nicole and Alex, and I stand with them in this difficult time, offering my support and care. Clarence’s presence, his kindness, and his legacy will forever echo in our hearts. I will deeply miss him.”
Valerie Simpson, songwriter (Ashford & Simpson): “‘The Black Godfather’ I knew and I marveled at his deal making but during vacation times with Quincy he’d speak in his own way and say how much he loved Ashford & Simpson music. Clarence would let loose a vocabulary of cuss words – never before heard that would enlighten me and make me laugh – and I will miss that authenticity and life!”
Quincy Jones: “There will never be enough words to express how much Clarence Avant meant to me. He was my dearest friend, my brother, my confidant, my mentor, and my counsel for more than 60 years. Clarence always told me the truth in every aspect of my life, even when he knew I didn’t want to hear it…and in this business we all know what a rarity that is. There will never be another like Clarence Avant, and I will miss his presence every day.”
Clive Davis: “Clarence Avant was truly one of a kind. His passing is a great loss of someone who is irreplaceable. Clarence’s extraordinary contribution to music and the barriers he broke throughout his career are unrivaled. He was the mentor to all Black executives in the music industry for decades, providing invaluable guidance and support while always standing up for equal rights. Clarence was humane and fair and inspired love and respect from all who knew him. I personally loved him and will miss him forever.”
Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff (Gamble & Huff): “Clarence Avant was a great friend of ours. He definitely made his mark in the industry. He will be truly missed. We send our sincere condolences to his family.”
Berry Gordy: “With the passing of Clarence Avant the world has misplaced an icon, his household has misplaced their patriarch, and I misplaced an expensive pal. Clarence earned his fame because the Black Godfather for good motive. Individuals, particularly musicians and artists, went to him after they had been in hassle and a method or one other, he would repair the issue. Clarence was repeatedly engaged within the issues that made a distinction. He liked politics and was very concerned with many charities.
“Of his numerous professional accomplishments – Clarence was most proud of his family – his beloved wife Jacqueline, his son Alex, his daughter Nicole and her husband Ted Sarandos. My heart goes out to them. Our Black Godfather may be gone – but he will never be forgotten.”
T.I.: “Maaaan, woke up this morning and couldn’t believe this news!! RIP to The Black Godfather Clarence Avant, thank you for all the wisdom you’ve shared and the path you paved for artists like myself.”
Roc Nation: “Clarence Avant isn’t just the “Godfather Of Black Music,” he’s our cultural Godfather. All through his life, he burst via doorways and tore down ceilings, altering lives and offering alternatives for generations. A real pioneer, a mentor and a champion, Clarence Avant is and all the time will likely be an enormous amongst us.”
Rock & Roll Corridor of Fame: “In Memoriam: 2021 Inductee Clarence Avant, known as “The Black Godfather,” was cool, savvy, assured, and fearless — somebody who made the seemingly unattainable potential. Avant served quite a lot of roles throughout his illustrious profession, together with supervisor, label proprietor, live performance organizer, occasion producer, political fundraiser, and mentor. He was the quintessential impresario, with an uncanny means to attach folks, open doorways, and supply alternatives for numerous musicians, actors, and politicians. Corridor of Famer Invoice Withers completely summed up Avant’s influence: ‘He put people together.’”
Earvin “Magic” Johnson: “Rest in peace to the legendary, game-changing “Black Godfather”, and my nice pal Clarence Avant. His accomplishments converse for themselves. As a former music supervisor, he based two report labels and bought the primary totally black-owned radio station. He consulted many main studios within the Nineteen Seventies and suggested Presidents Jimmy Carter, Invoice Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama. He additionally served as chairman of the board at Motown Data, promoted Michael Jackson’s BAD tour and is accountable for discovering lots of the most unimaginable music artists we all know right now.”
Kevin Liles, chairman/CEO of 300 Elektra Leisure: “RIP Clarence Avant, Godfather of Black Music. You will be missed my friend. Rest in Peace.”
Ben Crump, civil rights legal professional: “Clarence Avant — the Godfather of Black music — has died at 92. Known as the great connector in the industries of music, entertainment, and even in politics, he spent decades shaping Black culture and nurturing artists. His legacy will LIVE ON. Rest In Power, Godfather.”
Sherrilyn Ifill, former president/director-counself of NAACP Authorized Protection Fund: “‘The Godfather’ has left us. This man was singularly responsible for helping so many Black artists get paid their worth. Also was a wonderful supporter & former board member of @NAACP_LDF. Rest in Peace & Power #ClarenceAvant.”
Reverend Al Sharpton: “#ClarenceAvant was a revolutionary. When people in the entertainment world were delegated to a near master/slave relationship, he broke through that wall of exploitation and made us respected business people. I can’t count the enormous amount of situations that he negotiated.”
Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass: “Mr. Avant gave so much to Los Angeles — producing a sound that Influenced generations while ceaselessly fighting for civil rights and equal treatment under the law.
My thoughts are with the Avant family and all who mourn this massive loss.”
Barry Weiss, CEO of RECORDS: “RIP Clarence Avant. I can’t believe I’m actually writing this. This man was a true legend for real. A national treasure. He was like a second father to me. Complex, brilliant, a tough hard exterior but a beautiful soft thoughtful kind gentleman on the inside. He was always there for me and my father and we were always there for him. Nothing I can say here can come close to describing what an amazing person Clarence was. So I’II leave most of the words to the many others, the legions of industry executives and artists (not to mention the nation’s presidents) that Clarence helped. There’ll never be another like him. My last time hugging him in LA in February is a hug I’ll never forget. We all love you Clarence. Rest easy.”
Jody Gerson, chairman/CEO at Common Music Publishing Group: “There are no words that can fully capture Clarence Avant’s influence. He was a legend – a pioneering force in music, devoted champion for Black artists, cultural trailblazer and powerful voice for humanitarian efforts. Clarence’s legacy will live on through the many artists, songwriters, producers, executives and friends he mentored and supported. All of us at UMPG send our deepest condolences to his family and all who knew and loved him.”
David Geffen: “Clarence’s mark on the music business will likely be felt for generations. With out him and his highly effective presence, we might have been disadvantaged of a lot expertise. These he labored with, suggested, and supported are endlessly lucky. He was a pioneer who grew to become a legend and he was an expensive pal whom I’ll miss.“
Benny Medina: “We all loved both Jackie and Clarence Avant. The Godfather is with his Queen. Clarence and Jackie Avant both leave a legacy of giving, leadership, inspiration, teaching us all to do more for others, to work together and building not only careers but lives of purpose. They both led a life of integrity, grace, gratitude and humility. Clarence, ‘The Godfather,’ paved a road that created and led to opportunity for all those who watched and listened. While he is acknowledged for his work on behalf of stars, artists, writers and producers… the doors he opened for those of us of color, changed the face and gender of the executive structure of the music and entertainment business. l follow in those footsteps going forward and will never forget how blessed and fortunate we were to encounter and experience The Avant Touch.”
Sylvia Rhone, chairwoman/CEO at Epic Data: “Clarence Avant had a presence and spirit bigger than life itself. We were very close friends and I considered him a trusted advisor. He influenced and mentored countless African American people in the music/film/TV business. He was kind, hilarious, artist-friendly, generous with his time, knew everyone who was important to know in Hollywood and wielded a quiet but forceful power. Clarence was just a hell of a guy with a great sense of humor and filled with laughter. I’ve known him since my first day in the business and from then until today, he will always have a special place in my heart and I will miss him deeply.”