Remembering Clarence Avant, one of many nice connectors in music and leisure


Remembering Clarence Avant, one of many nice connectors in music and leisure

Clarence Avant, who boosted the careers of generations of musicians, entertainers, sports activities stars and politicians, has died. He was 92.


One of many nice connectors within the music and leisure industries died on Sunday. The manager and businessman Clarence Avant was 92 years previous. As NPR’s Anastasia Tsioulcas experiences, he was chargeable for the careers of generations of musicians and entertainers together with his mixture of avenue savvy and enterprise sense.

ANASTASIA TSIOULCAS, BYLINE: Clarence Avant was the person behind the scenes in numerous offers for artists and sports activities stars. He grew up very poor in Climax, N.C., because the oldest of eight kids. He by no means received a proper schooling previous the ninth grade, however that solely motivated him. Certainly one of Avant’s first massive scores was signing an unknown singer/songwriter already in his 30s. The artist’s title was Invoice Withers.


BILL WITHERS: (Singing) Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone. It isn’t heat when she’s away.

TSIOULCAS: Avant signed Withers to his personal label, Sussex Data. It is an innocuous-sounding title, however Avant had a sly humorousness. Sussex was a portmanteau of two issues Avant stated he knew everybody needed extra of – success and intercourse.


WITHERS: (Singing) Marvel this time the place she’s gone.

TSIOULCAS: Sussex finally went beneath, however Avant dusted himself off. He finally was the promoter for Michael Jackson’s first solo tour. He turned the chairman of Motown Data. He nurtured a number of eras of influential musicians and producers, together with Diddy, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. He related Jimmy and Terry with Janet Jackson to create her breakthrough album, 1986’s “Management,” with hits like “Nasty.”


JANET JACKSON: (Singing) That is proper, let me let you know. Nasty…

TSIOULCAS: Avant additionally turned a significant drive in politics. He suggested President George H.W. Bush however was additionally a fundraiser for Presidents Jimmy Carter, Invoice Clinton and Barack Obama. Netflix, which is headed by Avant’s son-in-law, Ted Sarandos, created a documentary about him in 2019. The movie’s title carries Avant’s longtime nickname, “The Black Godfather.” In that movie, Invoice Clinton known as Avant’s counsel priceless.


BILL CLINTON: His recommendation, per phrase, was most likely value extra than simply about anyone I ever handled.

TSIOULCAS: Avant was additionally a deal-maker for sports activities heroes, together with Hank Aaron and Jim Brown. He understood the ability of being influential not simply in politics, however in popular culture as properly. Within the Netflix documentary, rapper Ludacris defined that Avant’s greater objective was to advertise Black expertise.


LUDACRIS: Clarence is the kind of particular person that wishes everybody to do higher as a result of he understands that there are energy in numbers, and the larger that we’re collectively, the larger we can be as a complete tradition.

TSIOULCAS: Avant got here again into the information after a tragedy in December 2021. His spouse of over 50 years, Jacqueline, was killed in a violent housebreaking at their house in Beverly Hills. The next April, the assassin was sentenced to 190 years in jail.

Anastasia Tsioulcas, NPR Information, New York.


Copyright © 2023 NPR. All rights reserved. Go to our web site phrases of use and permissions pages at for additional info.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This textual content might not be in its remaining type and could also be up to date or revised sooner or later. Accuracy and availability might differ. The authoritative document of NPR’s programming is the audio document.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here