“Clarence Avant was one of our favorite people. He exemplified a certain level of cool and street smarts that allowed him to move confidently into worlds that nobody had prepared him for, never doubting he could figure it out. Clarence was part of a generation that served as a bridge from a time when there was very little opportunity for Black people to a time when doors began to open. He demanded the world make room, and he paved the way for the rest of us. Michelle and I will always be grateful for Clarence’s friendship and wise counsel. Our thoughts are with Nicole, Alex, Ted, and everyone whose life was touched by a truly remarkable man.” – President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama
“Clarence Avant was a legend. He was always focused on who he could bring to the table and who he could lift up. From the music industry to the civil rights movement, he brought people together so we could all move forward. Often operating behind the scenes, Clarence, affectionately called “the Godfather of Black Music”, spent his career sharing advice, making connections, and widening the path for generations of others to follow. He mentored and molded hundreds of legendary Black artists, athletes, and producers, whose signature styles and songs of triumph and tragedy continue to move millions across our nation and throughout the world.
Clarence supported community leaders through some of the toughest moments of the civil rights movement and helped open doors for elected officials – from those at city hall and in the halls of Congress, to the White House. He was generous, he was funny, and he was full of heart. He was my friend. Today, Doug and my prayers are with Nicole, Alex, Ted, and all those who loved him.” – Vice President Kamala Harris
“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.” – Quincy Jones
“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my dear friend Clarence Avant. Clarence has been a dear and trusted friend for many years. We worked closely together during my time as President of the Brotherhood Crusade, where he served as Chairman of the Board for decades. Clarence was also the recipient of the Brotherhood Crusade Pioneers of Black Achievement Award. Clarence was a relentless warrior for the advancement of Black people not only within the entertainment world but throughout this nation. His undeniable influence will forever be felt, admired, and greatly appreciated by me and the countless other people who have benefited from his work and influence. My heart goes out to Nicole, Alex and Ted and the entire Avant/Sarandos family. The one gleaming bit of happiness that I can take from the very sad time is that Clarence and his beloved wife Jacqui are together again.”– Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., Chairman and Executive Publisher of Bakewell Media, Founder/Creator Taste of Soul Family Festival, Board Chairman of the Los Angeles Brotherhood Crusade
“With the passing of Clarence Avant, the world lost an icon, his family lost their patriarch, and I lost a dear friend. Clarence earned his reputation as the Black Godfather for good reason. People, especially musicians and artists, went to him when they were in trouble and one way or another, he would fix the problem. Clarence was continuously engaged in the things that made a difference. He loved politics and was very involved 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.” – Berry Gordy, Founder, Motown
“Clarence Avant, a legend and a powerful force in the music industry. Clarence was the go-to guy for many of us in the music industry including Berry Gordy of Motown, Al Bell of Stax Records, Clive Davis of Atlantic Records and a countless list of others. He helped promote their careers and expand their businesses. He was the producer of “Save The Children.” He put the film together and brought together the right entertainers needed. He knew the perfect people to make the film successful. He discovered Bill Withers. Clarence was not a lawyer but negotiated many contract disputes. He served his time well. He was rough and tough. His beloved, late wife Jacqueline was the soft side of him. Clarence was a great friend and I admired him very much. My heart aches. What a mighty tree. Big trees block the wind and they they catch shade when it’s hot. We lost some great ones this year; Harry Belafonte, Jim Brown, now Clarence Avant. My wife Jackie and our family send our sincere condolences and fervent prayers to Nicole and Alexander. Rest in heavenly peace, Clarence. – Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rainbow PUSH Coalition
“Clarence served as the Chairman of the Board of the Brotherhood Crusade for almost 2 decades. His work, support, and impact to help build and grow this institution is undeniable. With his support the Brotherhood Crusade has been able to support thousands of community-based organizations and millions of individuals. We thank Clarence Avant and the entire Avant family for their continuous support of our organization and our hearts go out to his family, Nicole, Alex and Ted during this difficult time.” – Charisse Bremond-Weaver, President and CEO, Los Angeles Brotherhood Crusade
“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 right, but what Clarence also showed me is life is about the number of lives you impact while you are here. I am forever grateful for Clarence’s tough love and encouragement. I am also thankful to Mrs. Avant, Nicole, Alex, and Ted for sharing Clarence with all of us.” – John Platt, Chairman/CEO, Sony Music Publishing
“Rest in peace to the legendary, game changing “Black Godfather” and my great friend Clarence Avant. His accomplishments speak for themselves. As a former music manager, he found two record labels and purchased the first fully Black owned radio station. He consulted many major studios in the 1970s and advised Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama. he also served as Chairman of Motown Records, promoted Michael Jackson’s BAD Tour and is responsible for discovering many of the most incredible music artist we know today.
He knew how to touch every individual he met and meet them where they were in order to get them where they needed to be. I get solace in knowing he is reunited with his love, Jacqueline once again in Heaven. We will miss you dearly my friend! Cookie and I are praying for his children Nicole and Alex and all his loved ones during this difficult time.” – Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Basketball Hall of Famer, Businessman and Philanthropist
“I was so very sad on the passing of my good friend Clarence Avant. But I’m also thankful that I can call Clarence Avant a personal friend. My admiration for Clarence began before I moved to Los Angeles in 1972 from Oakland when he created Sussex Records, and I attended a reception for one of his recording artist’s new songs that was released. Clarence did so much for so many without recognition throughout his lifetime. I can only echo all of the accolades from so many people throughout the world. I express my sincere condolences to his children Nicole and Alex on the passing of their father. There will never, ever be another Clarence Avant.” – Earl ‘Skip’ Cooper II, Board Chairman Emeritus, Black Business Association
“Clarence Avant leaves a legacy that will inspire music and culture forever. 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. I had the great fortune to have been able to engage Mr. Avant in insightful and valuable conversations about the top issues that our city and nation were facing and I will always be grateful for the time we shared. Mr. and Mrs. Avant changed Los Angeles with their vision, their spirit, and their philanthropy. My thoughts are with the Avant family and all who mourn this massive loss.” – Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass
“Clarence Avant was a mentor and friend. While most recognize him for his deal making genius, I was fortunate enough to have his wisdom, support and counsel as a political savant. He never mixed his words and always stood on the side of the people. There were no big I’s and no little you’s in Clarence’s world. He made everyone feel the same greatness he possessed. I’m grateful for the many calls returned and the many calls received from him. He is our ‘forever’ Black Godfather.” – Minyon Moore
“Clarence Avant has left a legacy that will impact the entertainment industry for centuries because he used his personal seat at the table to change the narrative and open the door for countless generations of African Americans. He was the alpha and the omega of social activism and never once charged anyone for the millions of dollars he placed in the pockets of countless athletes, entertainers, and entrepreneurs. His life and commitment provided the bridge that hundreds of thousands have crossed.” – Cathy Hughes, TV One
“Clarence Avant was a visionary entrepreneur and changemaker who redefined the entertainment industry and opened doors for countless Black artists and executives through his mentorship and guidance. Beyond his incomparable career in the entertainment world, Avant was a passionate voice for equal rights whose wide-ranging influence made an impact on important figures in politics and sports. Avant’s legacy carries on in the many lives he changed and the generations of aspiring talents he continues to inspire. Our hearts are with Avant’s remarkable family and everyone mourning his loss.” – California Governor Gavin Newsom
“Clarence Avant’s extraordinary musical legacy has been felt for decades and will be felt for decades to come. He will be remembered as both a brilliant catalyst and protector of culture. His understated yet powerful influence transcended music, spanning the worlds of entertainment, sports, and politics. I am profoundly grateful for his friendship and mentorship. We have lost an incomparable visionary whose brilliance, humor, irreverence, and love made the world a better place. On behalf of everyone at UMG, we offer our deepest condolences to Nicole, Ted, and Alex and to their entire family.” – Sir Lucian Grainge, Chairman & CEO, Universal Music Group
“Absolutely crushed to lose you, Clarence Avant. As one of your Godchildren I don’t know a world without you since I have known you quite literally my whole life. We will miss your wit, char, encouragement, and support of others, you love for your family… What a rich and beautiful & powerful legacy you leave behind. Reunited with the love of our life…. Beautiful Jacquie. Rest well eternally, sending all my love to my Alex and Nicole and Ted and family. Rodney and I love you all and are always here for you.” – Holly Robinson-Peete, Entertainer
“Upon meeting Clarence Avant in the mid 1980s, one could see that he was a man whose letters of his name described him perfectly. He was personally Courageous, Legendary, Authentic, Respected, Essential, Nurturing, Classy & Extraordinary. That’s what we felt the first time we met him and the love of his life, Jacquie. We quickly realized that as couples we were married and moved to Los Angeles the same year, 1967. They would have celebrated their 56th anniversary this month in August. We were both collectors. We celebrated many birthdays and anniversaries together and realized we had many mutual friends and introduced each other to each other’s friends. We have fond memories most recently of when we collaborated and hosted a dinner at our home for Ms. Artis Lane. Then COVID hit, which limited time together, and a year later Jacquie was gone. It’s been hard to think of him without her and now they will be together again, this time forever. The Earth Tilted a Little as You Both Made Your Exit.
Clarence and Jacquie, we are all grateful for the blessing of your friendship. The world is a much better place because of you. May you rest in Joy, Peace, and Love. You are both missed immeasurably.” – Bernard & Shirley Kinsey
“Clarence Avant was more than a trail blazer in the music industry, he was a Black leader who lifted others up to realize their potential. An entrepreneur, adviser to many including Michael Jackson, Jay-Z, and President Barack Obama, Mr. Avant never sought the limelight for himself – he was too busy making others shine. Clarence Avant left all of us a study in humility, perseverance, and utility. He will be missed.” – Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer