Jerry Heller Obituary, Death –Jerry Heller, 77, of Allison, passed away Monday, April 17, 2023, at the Waverly Health Center. Graveside services will be held at a later date, at Rose Hill Cemetery, Grundy Center. His family requests no flowers. Counsell Woodley Funeral Home, Allison is caring for Jerry and his family. The novelist F Scott Fitzgerald asserted that there were no second acts in American lives, but this adage was confounded by the veteran music agent and manager Jerry Heller, who, after 20 years in the rock music industry, took on the hip-hop group NWA and played a key role in the gangsta rap movement.
In the 1960s and 70s, Heller, who has died aged 75, worked with many of the period’s most prominent artists, from Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye and Elton John to Creedence Clearwater Revival, Crosby, Stills & Nash and Van Morrison. His career had gone quiet by the late 70s, but he embarked on a hugely successful and controversial new phase of his life when he met the Los Angeles-based rapper Eazy-E in 1987. As the manager of Eazy-E’s group, NWA, and partner in the record label Ruthless, Heller was at the centre of the most notorious yet influential sector of the music industry in the late 80s – West Coast gangsta rap.
NWA’s debut album, Straight Outta Compton (1988), became a multimillion seller and its release is now regarded as one of the defining moments in the history of rap, not least because of such confrontational tracks as Fuck tha Police. “Compton wasn’t on the map of the city of Los Angeles, and they made Compton the third-biggest music city in the world,” Heller declared.
In 2015, the hit movie Straight Outta Compton told the story of NWA (the band members being closely involved in its production), with Paul Giamatti playing Heller. Heller filed a $110m defamation lawsuit because of what he considered an unfair and negative portrayal of himself, though a US district judge dismissed the majority of the suit in July this year.