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Former N.W.A. manager Jerry Heller dies at 75

Jerry Heller died Friday night in Southern California. He was 75. (Getty Images)

Jerry Heller died Friday night in Southern California. He was 75. (Getty Images)

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.

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.