Clarence Avant, famed music executive, endorses Rick Caruso for mayor

A man and a woman pose for the camera at an event
The late Jacqueline Avant and husband Clarence Avant.
(Mark Von Holden / Invision / Associated Press)

Clarence Avant, the 91-year-old music-industry titan feted by Barack Obama, Quincy Jones and Clive Davis in the documentary “The Black Godfather,” has thrown his support behind billionaire developer Rick Caruso in the L.A. mayoral race.

Caruso, in a statement to The Times, said, “I’ve known and loved Clarence for many years, and I am humbled and grateful to have his support. He is not only a legend, but someone who loves L.A. and has devoted his life to lifting up the city that has provided us all so much.”

Avant could not be reached for comment.

Avant’s endorsement comes six months after his wife, the philanthropist and activist Jackie Avant, was murdered in the couple’s Beverly Hills home in December. The killing shocked the city amid a rise in homicides last year.


Aariel Maynor, 30, pleaded guilty to murder, burglary and weapons charges in Avant’s death in March. Maynor was sentenced to 190 years to life in prison.

Clarence Avant came to wide recognitionfor his work managing jazz acts such as Sarah Vaughn and Freddie Hubbard, founding record labels that released albums by Bill Withers and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, bringing the first African American owned FM radio station to L.A. and chairing the board of Motown Records. Music executives from David Geffen, Jimmy Iovine and Sylvia Rhone counted him as a mentor.

The rapper Snoop Dogg, who spoke fondly of Avant in “The Black Godfather” film, endorsed Caruso earlier this week.

Avant’s involvement in California politics goes back decades, from his appointment to the state’s Board of Education under Gov. Jerry Brown in the ‘70s to becoming a major fundraiser for Barack Obama’s presidential run.

One of Caruso’s opponents in the race, L.A. congresswoman Karen Bass, has also lined up entertainment industry support from Endeavor Chief Executive Ari Emanuel, director J.J. Abrams and actor-rapper Donald Glover.