Former N.W.A. Manager, Jerry Heller, Dies At 75 – Tha Wire
Today in Tha Wire, famously known as the former manager of the iconic group N.W.A, Jerry Heller, has passed away at the age of 75. The industry vet was featured in the award winning movie Straight Outta Compton, and is highly regarded as being the one to bring N.W.A. from the hood to super stardom. He was also largely blamed for breaking the group-up and turning the members against once another by writing separate contracts and distributing the group's profits unfairly. Now that fact may be up for debate, depending on who you're talking to.
Heller co-founded Ruthless Records with Eazy-E, which released the legendary 1988 album “Straight Outta Compton,” and launched the careers of not only N.W.A. but other West Coast rappers like Michel'le, World Class Wreckin' Cru, J.J. Fad, The D.O.C.and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony just to name a few. In three years, Ruthless would turned out six platinum albums. Before gangster rap, the record exec worked with an eclectic group music icons from Pink Floyd, to Marvin Gaye, and even Elton John.
In recent years, it's no secret Heller took issue with the way he was portrayed in the N.W.A, biopic, where he was portrayed by veteran actor Paul Giamatti. Heller wasn't amused. In fact, the music mogul denied misappropriating any funds and was angry that he was painted a villain in the movie. He filed a $110 million dollar lawsuit against the producers of the flick, which included F. Gary Gray, Eazy's widow Tomica Woods-Wright, Ice Cube and Dr. Dre. At last word, the lawsuit is still on the books.
As for his death, his cousin, Gary Ballen, reportedly confirmed the news and said Heller died Friday night at a hospital in Thousand Oaks, California. The apparent cause of death is said to have been a heart attack. Heller reportedly suffered a heart attack while driving earlier in the day, and later died as a result.
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