Jerry Heller, N.W.A. and Eazy-E's Manager, Dies At 75
Jerry Heller, the former manager of N.W.A. and Eazy-E, died at age 75 on Friday. No cause of death has been officially released or reported.
Heller was best known for managing the careers of N.W.A. and Eazy-E, having a first-class seat into the virtual advent of gangsta rap on the West Coast. He and Eazy co-founded Ruthless Records, which became the home of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, The D.O.C., Michel’le and other acts.
Along with his role with N.W.A., Heller had a prosperous music career with other acts as well. As a booking agent and manager, he worked with the likes of Elton John, Pink Floyd, Marvin Gaye, Van Morrison, Ike and Tina Turner, and other acts.
But his success has often overshadowed by a reputation as a shady businessman. N.W.A. members Ice Cube and Dr. Dre both accused Heller of stealing money from them, leading to the dissolution of the group. Cube dissed Heller in his song “No Vaseline,” and Dr. Dre parodied him in the music video for “F**k Wit Dre Day.” Heller remained partners with Eazy-E until the rapper died in 1995.
Heller claimed that Ice Cube and Dr. Dre’s claims were untrue, telling his side of the story in his 2006 book, Ruthless: A Memoir. He entered the public discussion again last year, when he was portrayed by actor Paul Giamatti in the N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton. He threatened legal action before the film came out depending on how he was depicted, and he followed through, seeking $110 million for charges of defamation.
“As for the things that bothered me, I’ve been in the business for six decades. I’ve probably represented almost every major artist in the world, either directly or peripherally, at one time or another,” Heller told Rolling Stone. “I have a certain reputation, and that reputation certainly doesn’t entail the things that they said about me. It was very hurtful. I thought ‘No Vaseline’ was hurtful. But actually, this was more hurtful. Look, I am what I am, but I’m not a thief. And I’m not scandalous. I did more for N.W.A … I mean, it was just incredible, the success that we had. So for them to call me a thief is just terrible.”