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R.I.P. Clarence Avant, Godfather of Black Entertainment (1931-2023) | Tributes

August 18, 2023 - Movies

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – FEBRUARY 09: (L-R) Alex Avant, Jacqueline Avant, Clarence Avant, Nicole Avant, and Ted Sarandos attend the Pre-GRAMMY Gala and GRAMMY Salute to Industry Icons Honoring Clarence Avant at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 9, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

When I say legend, it is within the dictionary definition: one who is famous and well-known for doing extraordinary things in their field. The ironic thing is that people within those fields sometimes said they didn’t know exactly what Clarence Avant did, what his title was, or how he did it, but the results spoke for themselves. I came across him not only in the world of entertainment, but in the world of politics where he raised money for former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. He also helped Muhammad Ali, Hank Aaron, Jim Brown and other sports figures. Bill Withers said that he provided the big transition from his life as a professional air craft mechanic to being sought after in the music world.  

The record labels that Mr. Avant founded in the 1960s and 70s were responsible for releasing the work of trailblazing artists including Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis as well as Bill Withers. He also gained a reputation for being a sought-after mentor and consultant to such giants as Irving Azoff, Jheryl Busby, Sean Combs, Snoop Dogg, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Jamie Foxx, David GeffenWhitney Houston, Reginald Hudlin, Jimmy Iovine, Jay-Z, Quincy Jones, Queen Latifah, Jon Platt, Antonio “L.A.” Reid, Sylvia Rhone, Lionel Richie, Pharrell Williams and many others. 

For his extraordinary work in the world of music he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Lionel Richie in 2021, and the video they put together to introduce him remains one of my favorites. (See Below.)

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He also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions.

HOLLYWOOD, CA – OCTOBER 07: Music Executive Clarence Avant attends a ceremony honoring him with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on October 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

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