Ruthless Records Co-Founder Jerry Heller Releases 'Ruthless' Memoir
Jerry Heller, music industry executive and co-founder of the legendary rap label Ruthless Records, recently released his memoirs, titled Ruthless.
The 325-page book offers a glimpse into Heller's career in the music industry, which started in the 1960's and 70's as a super agent who launched the first tours on American soil for rock superstars Elton John and Pink Floyd.
The book, written with Gil Reavill, details Heller's relationship with music industry gurus like David Geffen and Clive Davis, his work as an industry insider promoting tours for arena-rock groups Journey, Styx, REO Speed Wagon, ELO and others, as well as his eventual union with the late Eric "Eazy-E" Wright in March 1987, as cofounder of the historic label, Ruthless Records.
"One of the reasons I was able to understand what was happening in the 80's was because it wasn't that unlike what I had seen in the mid-60's at the beginning of the Rock & Roll era," Heller told AllHipHop.com. "Around 1986, I heard about a scene that was happening at a little pressing plant called Macola Records. Other people recording and pressing at Macola at the time were Ice-T, MC Hammer, The Timex Social Club, Egyptian Lover, Rodney O & Joe Cooley, Mix Master Spade, Bobby Jimmy & the Critters [which featured Russ Parr] and a group called the West Coast Wrecking Cru."
Heller started to manage the groups, including the West Coast Wrecking Cru.
The book details the first meeting between World Class Wrecking Cru leader Alonzo Williams, Heller and Eazy-E on March 3, 1987.
"Up pulls this Suzuki Samuri all tricked out and Eazy gets out with [NWA group member MC] Ren," Heller continued. "And I meet him and the guy impressed me. He was only about 5'2. It wasn't his size. He had a kind of impact, a charisma about him. He had this inner power I was very impressed with."
Ruthless details that fateful meeting, when Wright played his legendary song "Boyz In Tha Hood" for Heller.
"It freaked me out," Heller told AllHipHop.com. "I thought it was the most important music I had heard since the mid 60's and the beginning of Rock & Roll. Fortunately I had been around long enough so that I could recognize it. It was sort of a cross between Gil Scott-Heron, The Last Poets, The Rolling Stones and The Black Panthers. I just said 'whoa, this is something special. This is incredible music.' And it just blew me away. It had that hard core feeling I used to associate with The Panthers, who were real serious individuals."
The next day, Eazy-E and Heller went into business, launching one of the most successful rap record labels of all time, Ruthless Records.
The book chronicles Heller's tenure at the label and answers a number of questions about the origins of Ruthless Records, how he and Eazy-E were invited to dine with George Bush Sr., NWA tours ("bullets in one tour bus, weapons in the other tour bus") and Marion "Suge" Knight's entrance into Ruthless Records via Tracy "The D.O.C" Curry.
"I always liked Suge Knight, but Eazy always saw right through him," Heller told AllHipHop.com. "He was an enterprising guy. I used to sit with him for hours on end about management."
Heller said Eazy wanted to have Knight killed early on, because he "always felt Suge was going to be a problem."
For the first time, Heller responds to accusations that he cheated Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, two former members of legendary rap group NWA, who went on to become superstars.
The pair left Ruthless Records in very public feuds with Eazy-E and Heller and released the legendary diss records "No Vaseline," "Dre Day."
Both accused Heller of mismanaging their careers, charges Heller vehemently denies in the final chapter of Ruthless titled "Real ****** Don't Die," which is dedicated to Eazy-E.
Ruthless is in stores now nationwide via Simon Spotlight Entertainment. For more information visit simonsays.com or www.myspace.com/jerryheller/
That should be an interesting read...Suge and Heller, from what Heller described, seemed pretty cool with each other. The part about how Eazy wanted Suge killed is probably not surprising, especially with that tale about how Suge and his friends bursted into Eazy's office and threatened to kill Eazy if he didn't let Dr. Dre out of his contract.
Ruthless Records (along with Def Jam) paved the way for other independent labels like Rap-A-Lot, No Limit, Cash Money, So So Def, and many others. But even since Eazy died and his widow took over the label (which basically ran Heller off), they've been pretty much dead (with exception of Bone Thugs). With Suge Knight being in and out of prison (and Dre and Snoop leaving, plus 2Pac's death), Death Row is the same way. There isn't really a record label here on the West Coast that has made an impact like Death Row and Ruthless once did, except maybe Aftermath.
Eazy's son has his own label, and let's hope that he from a lot of his father's mistakes. From what I've heard from Lil Eazy, he's pretty decent and he's got some potential and he's beefing with The Game (who's beefing with everybody else it seems). Speaking of which, Lil Eazy's got a track called "Coming From Compton", and he lays into Game pretty good...I just wish the song was a bit longer (it's less than 3 mins).
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