Beverly Hills Mourns Clarence Avant

Mayor Dr. Julian Gold adjourned the Aug. 15 Beverly Hills City Council regular meeting this week in memory of Clarence Avant — “The Black Godfather” of music, entertainment, politics and sports.

Avant died Aug. 13 at his Beverly Hills home at age 92.

“On behalf of the council, I adjourn this meeting to honor the life and work of Clarence Avant, who was a legendary Beverly Hills resident,” Gold said. “He and his family have been here for decades.”

Gold added that Avant left a positive impact on many people and in many ways. “We mourn his passing,” Gold said. “We do want to extend to the entire family and their friends the sympathies and condolences of this council and this community.” Before the adjournment, Councilmember Lili Bosse praised Avant. “He really changed people’s lives and did it behind the scenes with no fanfare, not only in the music business but in the movie business and politics.” Bosse noted that Avant helped to arrange for Barack Obama’s prime-time address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, which introduced the future president to the nation. She also said Avant helped Cleveland Browns football player Jim Brown get into the movie business as an actor.

Avant’s death was announced in an Aug. 14 statement from his son Alex Avant, daughter Nicole Avant and son-in-law Ted Sarandos.

“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,” the family said. “The joy of his legacy eases the sorrow of our loss.”

Avant worked with artists such as Louis Armstrong, Jimmy Jam and soul singer Bill Withers, for hits such as “Ain’t No Sunshine.”

“Top artists and executives like Quincy Jones, Jay-Z, Whitney Houston, Pharell Williams, Lionel Richie, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Sean Combs, L.A. Reid, Suzanne de Passe, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Jon Platt, Irving Azoff, Snoop Dogg, Reginald Hudlin, Benny Medina and Queen Latifah all credit Avant for his inspiration and guidance,” the statement continued.

Avant got his start in the music business as a road manager for Little Willie John. In addition to beginning Sussex Records in 1969, he helped to promote Michael Jackson’s first solo tour in 1987 and became chairman of Motown Records in 1993.

In a statement, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass praised Clarence Avant and his late wife Jacqueline.

“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,” Bass said.

Avant’s death comes more than 1 1/2 years after the Dec. 1, 2021 murder of his wife at their Beverly Hills home. Aariel Maynor, who pleaded guilty to the murder, is serving a life sentence in prison.

“Clarence Avant was one of our favorite people,” said former President Barack Obama in a statement. “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.”