eazy-e-jerry-heller

The former N.W.A manager was 75 years old.

Jerry Heller, the former manager of famed West Coast super group N.W.A. has died. He was 75 years old. The cause of death has yet to be determined.

Born October 6, 1940 in Cleveland, Ohio, Heller worked primarily with rock acts in the beginning stages of his career. His music agency helped acts such as The Who, Black Sabbath, Van Morrison, Cat Stevens, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Average White Band, Ike & Tina Turner & Carly Simon. That would change beginning in 1986 when Heller met Eric “Eazy-E” Wright for the first time. Wright, pushing his “Boyz In The Hood” single would befriend Heller and the two would found Ruthless Records, the first home for N.W.A. and later acts such as Bone Thugs N Harmony, J.J. Fad & Kid Frost.

Heller’s biggest success came with N.W.A, the Compton, California group featuring Eazy, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, DJ Yella & MC Ren. In 1988, the group released their landmark debut LP, Straight Outta Compton, signaling a change not only in music consumption, censorship but also gangsta rap and the West Coast in general. The fissures began to show immediately after. Ice Cube left the group over a money dispute he held Heller personally responsible for.

On the 1991 diss track “No Vaseline”, Cube rapped, “Cause you let a Jew break up my crew” disparaging Heller throughout the song in various racial and homophobic epithets. After the completion of Efil4zaggin and Eazy-E’s second solo album Eazy-Duz-It, Dr. Dre left as well, citing money issues for the demise of The World’s Most Dangerous Group.

Post N.W.A & Straight Outta Compton Lawsuit

Despite the acrimony, Eazy E stuck with Heller until the end of his life in 1995 after a short battle with AIDS. “I was with him until the day of his untimely death,” Heller told Rolling Stone. “I still think about him every day. He was like my son. He was a visionary. He was the greatest, and I’ve always believed that only he and I really understood the significance of what N.W.A was.”

In 2006, Heller wrote Ruthless: A Memoir in which he denied any financial impropriety and alleged that Eazy E wanted to kill Suge Knight but Heller talked him out of it. He also alleged in the book that Dr. Dre was “too drunk” during the Dee Barnes incident and Heller was left to “clean up the mess”.

After the release of the N.W.A biopic Straight Outta Compton last August, Heller filled a lawsuit due to how he was presented in the film. “It was dishonest,” he told Rolling Stone. “I just decided that I could not live with myself and not file this suit.”

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