Jerry Heller, the controversial music industry veteran who first brought N.W.A. to fame, has died. TMZ reports that he died on Friday after “suffering some sort of medical emergency while driving.” He was 75.
Heller rose to prominence in the 1960s, representing artists including the Who, Marvin Gaye, Black Sabbath, and Grand Funk Railroad. In the 1980s, he began working with hip-hop acts like World Class Wreckin’ Cru and C.I.A., eventually co-founding Ruthless Records with Eazy-E and managing N.W.A. from 1987 onward.
In 1991, Ice Cube and Dr. Dre left the group due to financial disputes with Heller, effectively breaking N.W.A. up. Last year, after Paul Giamatti portrayed him in the N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton, Heller filed a defamation lawsuit against Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, the estate of Eazy-E, and NBC Universal.