20 Ways Clarence Avant Influenced Black Music

A look at how this BET Honors honoree impacted music.

Clarence Avant 

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Clarence Avant 

Clarence Avant: Entrepreneur Award   - With a career that spans over five decades, BET celebrates the Godfather of Black Music as an entrepreneur, music industry pioneer and mentor. (Photo: Charley Gallay/Getty Images for NAACP)

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Clarence Avant - A music executive and pioneering deal-maker for over 40 years, Clarence Avant is known as the "Godfather" in the music indusrty because of his willingness to help newcomers in the music business. His work behind the scenes has had a lasting affect on America's musical landscape. Here's a look at the ways this BET Honors honoree has impacted the songs of our lives. (Photo: Charley Gallay/Getty Images for NAACP)

Little Wille John and Sarah Vaughan - One of his first gigs in the music industry was as the manager for R&B singer Little Willie John and pioneering jazz singer Sarah Vaughan. Willie John scored a huge cross-over hit with the song "Fever" in 1956. And Vaughan (a.k.a. "the Divine One") would have a huge career in the '50s and '60s with hits like "Whatever Lola Wants" and "How Important Can It Be."  (Photos from left: Frank Driggs Collection/Getty Images, David Redfern/Redferns)

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Little Wille John and Sarah Vaughan - One of his first gigs in the music industry was as the manager for R&B singer Little Willie John and pioneering jazz singer Sarah Vaughan. Willie John scored a huge cross-over hit with the song "Fever" in 1956. And Vaughan (a.k.a. "the Divine One") would have a huge career in the '50s and '60s with hits like "Whatever Lola Wants" and "How Important Can It Be." (Photos from left: Frank Driggs Collection/Getty Images, David Redfern/Redferns)

Venture Records - In 1967, Avant engineered what is considered the first joint venture between an African-American artist and a major record company. The deal between former Motown songwriter/producer William "Mickey" Stevenson and MGM records formed Venture Records.  (Photo: VENTURE Records)

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Venture Records - In 1967, Avant engineered what is considered the first joint venture between an African-American artist and a major record company. The deal between former Motown songwriter/producer William "Mickey" Stevenson and MGM records formed Venture Records. (Photo: VENTURE Records)

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Ja'Net Dubois - Avant helped produce the off Broaday play The Reckoning, starring Ja'Net Dubois, in 1969. Dubois would go on to star as Wilona in the groundbreaking TV sitcom Good Times. She would also write and sing the theme song for another trailblazing TV series, The Jeffersons. The song would become one of TV's most beloved theme songs.   (Photo: Getty Images)

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Stax Records - Founded in 1957, Stax Records was instrumental in the distribution and popularization of soul music. With legends like Otis Redding on the label, plenty of the releases made listeners snap their fingers, which made this the perfect logo.(Photo: STAX Records)

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Stax Records - Becoming known as prized deal-maker, Avant was recruited by music executive Al Bell to aid in the sell of the legendary soul music label, Stax Records, to Gulf+Western. Known as the antithesis to Motown, Stax specialized in gritty and rough-sounding soul music. And its artist roster included Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding and Johnnie Taylor. (Photo: STAX Records)

Sussex Records - After the folding of Venture Records, Avant launched Sussex Records in Hollywood, CA, in 1969.   (Photo: SUSSEX Records)

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Sussex Records - After the folding of Venture Records, Avant launched Sussex Records in Hollywood, CA, in 1969.  (Photo: SUSSEX Records)

"City of the Angels," Bill Withers - This 1976 song beautifully recounts Withers' real-life move to L.A., where he relocated at age 29 after nine years in the Navy. "L.A., L.A., find a place for me," Wither pleads. "Gimme all your spaces please, it's where I wanna be."   (Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

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Bill Withers - One of Sussex Records' most successful artists was Bill Withers, whose 1971 LP Just As I Am scored a Grammy for the hit single "Ain't No Sunchine." Withers's songs, like "Lean on Me" and "Grandma's Hands," have been sampled by hip hop and R&B acts from Big Daddy Kane to Blackstreet.  (Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

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Dennis Coffey - Sussex also signed guitarist and former Motown session musician Dennis Coffey. Coffey, who played guitar on Motown hits like the Temptations' "Cloud Nine" and "Ball of Confusion," landed a minor hit with the 1971 instrumental song "Scorpio." While the tune had little impact on the music charts, it became a huge hit in Bronx, NY, where it would became one of the beat cornerstones for hip hop music.  (Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

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Avant Garde Broadcasting - After establishing Avant Garde Broadcasting in 1971, Avant bought KTYM (later named KAGB), the first African-American owned FM radio station in metropolitan Los Angeles, in 1973.  (Photo: GettyImages)

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Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers - In the early '70s, Chuck Brown and his famous band, The Soul Searchers, signed to Sussex. The heavy percussive and afro-Latin-influenced sound of Brown's music helped define a new funk sub-genre, Go-Go music, coming out of Washington, D.C. (Photo: Adrian Sidney/PictureGroup)

The New Wave  - In the early ?80s O?Neal formed the funky new wave band Alexander and released two singles, ?Playroom? and ?Attitude,? on indie labels. While the singles didn?t do well on the charts, his talent garnered him a side gig that landed him his big break. Doing background vocals for artists on Clarence Avant?s Tabu Records like The S.O.S. Band and Cherrelle, O?Neal was signed to the label.  (Photo: TABU Records)

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Tabu Records - After Sussex Records folded, Avant founded Tabu Productions (better known as Tabu Records) in 1976. The label would find major succes on the music charts throughout the 1980s and early '90s.  (Photo: TABU Records)

Legend Award Honorees: Kool and the Gang -

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Kool & the Gang - In the early '90s, groundbreaking R&B band Kool & the Gang signed to Tabu. Since their debut in the early '70s, this ensemble has cranked out pop classics like "Lady's Night" and "Celebrate." And their early funk hits,  including "N.T." and "Jungle Boogie," have been sampled numerous times by hit hip hop artists.  (Photo: GAB Archive/Redferns)

Launching Pad - Super Producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis would eventually leave the Time to become two of the biggest and most influentials names in music.  (Photo: Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)

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Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis - While they never signed to Tabu Records, the phenomenal producer/songwriting duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis began their record producing career crafting hit tunes for acts on Avant's label. Jam and Lewis would go on to define the dance-able electonic sound of funky R&B from the mid- to late '80s.  (Photo: Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)

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The S.O.S. Band - In 1983, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis introduced their hit-making formula when they began producing hits for  Atlanta-born R&B group The S.O.S. Band. Among the classic tracks the duo wrote for the band were "Just Be Good to Me," "Tell Me If You Still Care" and "Just the Way You Like It." (Photo: Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

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Cherrelle  - Singer Cherelle was another Tabu artist Jam and Lewis turned into a hit-making R&B act. Her R&B radio hit "I Didn't Mean to Turn You On" was covered by both Robert Palmer and Mariah Carey.  (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

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Cherrelle  - Singer Cherelle was another Tabu artist Jam and Lewis turned into a hit-making R&B act. Her R&B radio hit "I Didn't Mean to Turn You On" was covered by both Robert Palmer and Mariah Carey. (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Alexander O'Neal - Soul crooner Alexander O'Neal was a Tabu Records superstar who scored late '80s radio hits like "Fake," "If You Were Here Tonight" and "Criticize." With his smooth, baritone vocals and a look tinted with urban edge, O'Neal's success was a precursor to the stardom of up-and-coming soul men like Brian McKnight, Eric Ben?t and R. Kelly.   (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

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Alexander O'Neal - Soul crooner Alexander O'Neal was a Tabu Records superstar who scored late '80s radio hits like "Fake," "If You Were Here Tonight" and "Criticize." With his smooth, baritone vocals and a look tinted with urban edge, O'Neal's success was a precursor to the stardom of up-and-coming soul men like Brian McKnight, Eric Benét and R. Kelly.  (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

23. He Was A Boss - Sorry, Rick Ross and Meek Mill. MJ was making eye-popping business moves that make today's stars' moves look like chump change. Much to the chagrin of former friend Paul McCartney, Jackson paid $47 million for the publishing rights to the Beatles back catalogue in 1985. 10 years later, he sold a share off to Sony in 1995 for $95 million.  (Photo: PA Photos /Landov)

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Michael Jackson's Bad Tour - Avant helped to promote Michael Jackson's first solo tour, for the LP Bad, in 1987. As Michael Jackson was one of the biggest selling pop music artists in history, his tour added four new entries in the Guinness Book of World Records. It was the largest grossing tour in history, the tour with the largest attended audience and the most successful concert series.  (Photo: PA Photos /Landov)

Motown Records - Three distinct polygons placed side by side make up the classic Motown Records logo, creating a distinguished "M." That sleek and chic logo ended up on the records of some of the most incredible acts in music over the last half-century.(Photo: Motown Records)

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Motown Records - When Polygram acquired Motown Records in 1993, Avant was named Chairman of the Board of Motown Records. (Photo: Motown Records)

Jheryl Busby - When Motown Records sought to implement a new business plan in 1993, Avant became a mentor to Jheryl Busby, the label's president and chief executive officer. Busby helped turn Motown's fortunes around by signing acts like Boyz II Men, Queen Latifah and Johnny Gill.  (Photo: Associated Press 1993)

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Jheryl Busby - When Motown Records sought to implement a new business plan in 1993, Avant became a mentor to Jheryl Busby, the label's president and chief executive officer. Busby helped turn Motown's fortunes around by signing acts like Boyz II Men, Queen Latifah and Johnny Gill. (Photo: Associated Press 1993)

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George Jackson - In 1999, Avant was recruited by film producer/music exec George Jackson to be chairman of Urban Box Office (UBO). This short-lived series of websites, which were aimed at web viewers of color, was a precursor to websites like Shadow and Act, The Grio and Hip Hop Wired.  (Photo: Gramercy Pictures/Getty Images)