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/