Jerry Heller, Former NWA Manager, Dies at 75

Music industry veteran was played by Paul Giamatti in 2015 biopic “Straight Outta Compton”

Last Updated: September 3, 2016 @ 8:22 AM

Jerry Heller, the original manager of the ’80s rap group N.W.A, died Friday at age 75, according to media reports.

The music industry veteran — who was memorably played by Paul Giamatti in last summer’s N.W.A biopic “Straight Outta Compton” — suffered a medical emergency while driving in Ventura County, California, and collided with another car, TMZ reported.

The native of Shaker Heights, Ohio, got his start as a music agent and promoter in the 1960s and ’70s, working with acts such as Elton John, Pink Floyd, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Marvin Gaye, the Who and Black Sabbath.

In 1987, he teamed with Compton-based rapper Eazy-E to found Ruthless Records, the label that helped boost the West Coast rap scene to worldwide prominence and score six platinum-selling records in three years.

Heller also spent four years managing N.W.A, the controversial and influential gangsta rap band featuring Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, DJ Yella and MC Ren.

Ice Cube quit the hip-hop supergroup in 1989 in the midst of a disagreement with Heller about royalties. Two years later, Dr. Dre had his own dispute with Heller and left Ruthless for rival hip-hop label Death Row.

Though Easy-E remained loyal to Heller until his death in 1995, other former members of N.W.A never seemed to settle their differences — which were further inflamed by the release of F. Gary Gray‘s “Straight Outta Compton” last August.

Last October, Heller filed a $110 million defamation suit against Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, NBCUniversal and others, disputing his portrayal in the film as a “sleazy manager” who was “solely responsible for the demise of N.W.A,” according to his suit.