Jerry Heller, known best for his time serving as the controversial first manager of N.W.A. and co-founding Ruthless Records, has died at the age of 75. Heller's cousin Gary Ballen confirmed with Billboard that Heller died of a heart attack.
According to TMZ, Heller's lawyer Mickey Shapiro believes that the 2015 N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton is what ultimately led to Heller's death. Shapiro told TMZ that Jerry Heller had "barely slept" and was "heartbroken" over the ordeal. He firmly believes that Heller's heart attack was brought on by his anxiety over Straight Outta Compton.
Prior to managing L.A.-based hip-hop groups, Heller spent two decades working as an agent and tour promoter. By the 1980s, he managed World Class Wreckin' Cru and C.I.A., and eventually co-founded Ruthless Records with Eazy-E and managed N.W.A. from 1987 to 1991. Heller would go on to manage Eazy-E right before the rapper's untimely death. During his time managing N.W.A., he, Dr. Dre, and Ice Cube would often quarrel over finances, which led the two to leave N.W.A.
Jerry Heller was not happy with his portrayal in Straight Outta Compton and filed a defamation lawsuit against the surviving members of the N.W.A. as well as NBC Universal. The lawsuit claimed that "the film is littered with false statements that harm the reputation of (Heller) and aim to ridicule and lower him in the opinion of the community and to deter third persons from associating or dealing with him."