Veteran music executive Jerry Heller has died at the age of 75.
The controversial N.W.A. manager served as the group’s first manager and co-founded Ruthless Records with Eazy-E in 1987.
According to entertainment website TMZ, Heller died “after suffering some kind of medical emergency whilst driving”. After the car in which Heller was travelling crashed, the music mogul was hospitalised and it remains unclear as to whether he died from the medical emergency, the collision itself, or both.
Heller started out in the music industry in the 1960’s, promoting artists such as Marvin Gaye, The Who, Pink Floyd and more.
It wasn’t until the 1980’s that Heller met Eric “Eazy-E” Wright who he would later start the now infamous record label, Ruthless Records which would spawn acts such as “The World’s Most Dangerous Group, N.W.A., along with J.J. Fad, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and more. In its prime, the label was host to megastars such as Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, The D.O.C. and many more.
His time managing N.W.A. was forever tainted after a dispute over pay with Ice Cube and Dr. Dre led to both members leaving the group and successfully launching their own solo careers elsewhere.
Last year, we saw Paul Giamatti portray Heller in the N.W.A. movie biopic, “Straight Outta Compton”, a portrayal which Heller was extremely unhappy with, going so far as to launch a defamation lawsuit against Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, the estate of Eazy-E, NBC Universal and others. It is unclear what will happen to the case with Hellers sudden death.
Despite his semi-retirement from music, Heller still answered many questions about the early days of N.W.A. and even released a book in 2006, entitled “Ruthless: A Memoir”.
We were lucky enough to talk to Jerry about his career in the music industry earlier on in the year, the full interview can be viewed here