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Jerry Heller, former NWA manager, dead at 75

In this Aug. 14, 2006 file photo, music industry veteran Jerry Heller is photographed in New York's Central Park.
In this Aug. 14, 2006 file photo, music industry veteran Jerry Heller is photographed in New York's Central Park. AP Photo/Jim Cooper

LOS ANGELES – The music manager who helped introduce N.W.A. to the masses has died. Jerry Heller was 75 years old.

Heller’s cousin, Gary Ballen, says Heller died Friday night in Southern California.

READ MORE: ‘Straight Outta Compton’ leads box office for 3 consecutive weekends

Heller started his career in the 1960s as an agent and promoter, working with such acts as Pink Floyd, Marvin Gaye and Creedence Clearwater Revival. He co-founded Ruthless Records with Eazy-E, which released N.W.A.’s seminal album “Straight Outta Compton” in 1988, launching the West Coast gangsta rap movement. Ruthless was also behind such artists as J.J. Fad, Michel’le and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.

Heller released “Ruthless: A Memoir” in 2006.

Actor Paul Giamatti played Heller in last year’s hit film “Straight Outta Compton.” Heller sued the film’s producers for defamation after its release, claiming it portrayed him as a villain.

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