When Eazy-E launched Ruthless Records and the career of N.W.A. in the late 1980s, he did it with the help of manager Jerry Heller.
20 years after Eazy’s untimely death, Jerry remembered his fallen friend during a recent interview with on Bay Area-based podcast, the Murder Master Music Show.
“It’s very, very, difficult. I think about him all the time,” he said, when asked how he feels about Eazy-E being gone. “I think about what he would have accomplished is he was still here. The guy was an incredible visionary, a good friend, and like a son to me.”
Later, Heller talked about the upcoming N.W.A. biopic, Straight Outta Compton, and how he has no involvement, despite being a large part of the group during its heyday.
“I haven’t seen anything yet. I am waiting until the movie comes out and I will be there in the front row with my lawyer and looking to make sure it is an accurate movie,” he said. “They didn’t reach out to me at all to give any kind of advice, insight, or background, so it’s hard for me to believe that they got it right. I didn’t expect them to, because that’s the way that they are. I certainly thought that Universal, Warner Bros. or one of their companies would insist on it. I am really shocked that even though they didn’t reach out — that somebody didn’t reach out.”
At the peak of N.W.A. success, two of its members defected: Dr. Dre and Ice Cube. To this day, Heller says he hasn’t seen Ice Cube since he left Ruthless Records in 1989, but says he has run into Dre.
“I have never seen Cube anywhere since the day that he left Ruthless,” he said. “I never seen him anywhere, at a Laker game or a Dodger game. I never saw him again. I seen Dre a couple of times. His Mother lives a few doors away, so I see her all the time. I use to see [Dre] once in awhile and we were always pleasant to each other. I’d run into him at the gas station or what ever. I got nothing against Dre, I think Dre is the most talented guy of the entire rap era.”
Elsewhere, Heller addressed Suge Knight. In his 2007 book, Ruthless: A Memoir, he claimed that Eazy-E suggested that they have the Death Row Records founder killed… but he shot it down. More than two decades later, Heller says it was probably the wrong decision.
“I think even more so now, I think that Suge Knight is an evil human being,” he explained. “He was a bodyguard at Ruthless and he drove Dre around. He was usually with The D.O.C. He was a bad guy then and he is a worse guy now. The guy is lucky, and like they say in Vegas to OJ Simpson, it’s pay back time. [Eazy-E] knew he was a problem from the beginning and that was that meeting, where I talked him out of doing what he wanted to do, and if you know Eric, he was very firm in his ideas. And actually, as it turned out, he was right and I was wrong.”
Ice Cube and Dr. Dre’s N.W.A. biopic, Straight Outta Compton, is due out August 14.