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 August 14, 2023

Record executive Clarence Avant dead at 92

Clarence Avant, the influential music executive and pioneer known as "The Black Godfather," has passed away at the age of 92.

The world of music and entertainment is mourning the loss of one of its most iconic figures. Clarence Avant, who paved the way for countless artists and executives in the industry, left behind a legacy that will continue to inspire generations.

His journey from North Carolina to becoming a leading force in the music industry is a testament to his determination, vision, and unmatched skills.

Fox News Digital shared a heartrending statement from his family which read, "It is with a heavy heart that the Avant/Sarandos family announce the passing of Clarence Alexander Avant." Clarence’s daughter Nicole and her husband, the co-CEO of Netflix, Ted Sarandos, along with Clarence's son Alex, confirmed the sad news.

A groundbreaking career in music and beyond

Born in 1931 in a segregated hospital in North Carolina, Clarence moved to Newark, New Jersey, in his youth, where he began his foray into the world of music by managing a lounge.

His early mentor, Joe Glaser, who managed giants like Louis Armstrong and Barbra Streisand, guided Clarence and imparted invaluable wisdom, CBS News reported.

Through the 1950s, Clarence's career saw an impressive trajectory. He began managing a range of artists, including Sarah Vaughan and Lalo Schifrin, the latter being the composer behind the iconic "Mission: Impossible" theme. His influence wasn't limited to music. Clarence also ventured into sports, assisting legends like Jim Brown and Muhammad Ali in their careers.

Award-winning achievements and indelible influence

The 1970s and 1990s were particularly pivotal for Clarence. Not only did he support Black-owned radio stations, but he also took the reins of Motown after its founder, Berry Gordy Jr., sold the company. His acumen also shone through when he brokered the sale of Stax Records to Gulf and Western in 1968 and started record labels Sussex and Tabu, signing noteworthy artists like Bill Withers and Jimmy Jam.

Quincy Jones, speaking about Clarence, stated,

"Everyone in this business has been by Clarence’s desk, if they’re smart,"

emphasizing Clarence's pivotal role in the industry.

Clarence's accomplishments were widely recognized. He was honored with two Grammys, an NAACP Image Award, and a BET entrepreneur award. His monumental contributions were also acknowledged when he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2021.

Personal tragedy and resilience

Despite his successes, Clarence's life was not devoid of tragedy. In 2021, his beloved wife Jacqueline was tragically murdered during a burglary at their Beverly Hills residence.

The devastating incident shook the Avant family deeply. Jacqueline and Clarence had shared a beautiful journey together since their marriage in 1967, raising two children, Alexander and Nicole.

Beyond the world of entertainment, Clarence was actively involved in politics and advocacy. He fervently supported civil rights leaders and initiatives. His commitment to societal change was evident when he helped with a benefit for Andrew Young's Congressional run in Georgia and served as the executive producer for "Save the Children," which focused on Jesse Jackson's "Operation PUSH."

Lessons to learn from this tragedy

1. Value of Security: Ensure your home is equipped with a reliable security system. Regularly check and update it to protect against potential intrusions.
2. Community Vigilance: Encourage a neighborhood watch system. Collective vigilance can deter potential criminals.
3. Safe Routines: Try not to have predictable routines, as this can make one an easy target for crimes.
4. Empathy and Support: In the aftermath of any crime, it's crucial for communities to come together, offering support to the affected individuals and families.

It's essential to remember that despite taking precautions, crime can happen to anyone. It's never the victim's fault, and placing blame is unproductive and hurtful.

Why this story matters to us all

Clarence Avant's life story isn't just about music or the entertainment industry. It's about resilience, breaking barriers, and paving the way for others. He was a beacon for many aspiring artists and executives, showing them that with determination, vision, and hard work, one could rise above challenges and make a significant impact.

His death reminds us of the fragility of life, the importance of cherishing our loved ones, and the need to continue the legacy of those who have significantly influenced our lives and society at large. Clarence Avant's journey from a segregated North Carolina to the pinnacles of the entertainment world serves as an enduring source of inspiration, reminding us of the boundless potential that resides within us all.

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Written By: Rampart Stonebridge

I'm Rampart Stonebridge, a curious and passionate writer who can't get enough of true crime. As a criminal investigative journalist, I put on my detective hat, delving deep into each case to reveal the hidden truths. My mission? To share engaging stories and shed light on the complexities of our mysterious world, all while satisfying your curiosity about the intriguing realm of true crime.
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