Passings: Promoter and Manager Jerry Heller (1940 - 2016)

by Paul Cashmere, Noise11

Jerry Heller, one of the most colorful characters in the US Music Biz, has died of a heart attack at age 75.

Heller managed the careers of rappers Niggaz Wit Attitude (N.W.A.) and Eazy-E.

Prior to that he was a promoter and worked the first US tours for Elton John and Pink Floyd then the who’s who of rock including Van Morrison, ELO, CSN, Black Sabbath, Grand Funk Railroad and Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Heller founded Ruthless Records and signed The Black Eyed Peas and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.

Jerry started working in the music business as an agent in 1963 before opening his own agency, the Heller-Fischel Agency in Beverly Hills. By the fourth year, the agency was turning over $7 million while representing Black Sabbath, The Who, and Grand Funk Railroad.

In the mid-80s Heller recognised the upswing in popularity of Rap Music and signed Eazy-E and founded Ruthless Records. The label was soon generating income of over $10 million a month. Between 1988 and 1991 Ruthless Records had six platinum (1m+) selling albums including the N.W.A. classic Straight Outta Compton.

In 2015 Heller sued NBC Universal. Dr. Dre and Ice Cube over the movie Straight Outta Compton claiming the movie was “littered with false statements aimed to ridicule him”. The judge dismissed all but one of Heller’s claims. He was played by Paul Giamatti in the movie.

Jerry Heller had a heart attack while driving in Thousand Oaks, causing an accident. He later died in hospital.

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