Jerry Heller, who was instrumental in the careers of many West Coast artists, died Friday at 75 years old. Heller was played by Paul Giamatti in the 2015 film Straight Outta Compton, and was so upset by the portrayal that he filed a lawsuit for defamation. He reportedly suffered a heart attack at Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks, California.
Heller was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and began his career in music as a booking agent for artists such as Elton John, Van Morrison, Marvin Gaye, and Pink Floyd. In the ‘80s, he helped launch Ruthless Records with rapper Eazy-E. His version of those events is laid out in his book from 2006, Ruthless: A Memoir. Heller is credited as the first manager of group N.W.A, but he is also blamed for founding members Ice Cube and Dr. Dre eventually leaving the group.
Of Eazy-E, Heller told Rolling Stone, "I was with him until the day of his untimely death. I still think about him every day. he was like my son. He was a visionary. He was the greatest, and I've always believed that only he and I really understood the significance of what N.W.A. was."