Former N.W.A Manager Jerry Heller Dies At 75 | Music News
Jerry Heller co-founded Ruthless Records with Eazy-E, and with him helped launch gangsta rap, also working with the likes of JJ Fad and Elton John. Heller, the music manager who helped introduce N.W.A to the masses, has died at 75.
According to Heller’s cousin, Gary Ballen, Heller died on Friday night at a hospital in Thousand Oaks, California. He suffered a heart attack while driving earlier in the day.
Ruthless Records released N.W.A’s debut album Straight Outta Compton in 1988, launching West Coast rap on a global scale. Ruthless also propelled JJ Fad, Michel’le and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.
Actor, Paul Giamatti, played Heller in last year’s hit film, Straight Outta Compton. Heller sued after seeing the villainous portrayal of himself.
Ballen said, “It made him look bad, like he stole money from [Eazy] or something, which never happened. They just rewrote history. And because of that, he had this lawsuit and it’s been going on and on. It really stressed him out having to deal with all this stuff”.
Ballen added Heller struggled with his parting with Eazy and the label. In 2006, Heller released Ruthless: A Memoir, which was apparently being adapted for film audiences.
Heller is said to have had heart problems for years, also suffering from diabetes, too. He started in the industry as agent and promoter, dealing with Pink Floyd, Marvin Gaye and Creedence Clearwater Revival. He is said to be the man behind Elton John’s first American performance.
Ballen recalled Heller saying, “He said, ‘You watch, this is going to be the biggest music ever. This is going to take over rock ‘n’ roll,’” Jerry was a real visionary … As far as I’m concerned, there would never be a Dr Dre or an Ice Cube if it wasn’t for Jerry getting (NWA) their first deal, which was really difficult. Nobody wanted to sign them”.
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