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Ruthless

Ruthless

A Memoir

"PAYBACK'S A BITCH, JERRY."

The words scrawled crudely across Jerry Heller's bedroom mirror that afternoon meant the rap wars had suddenly escalated. In the battle of his life over the ragingly successful music label he had helped found, Ruthless Records, Heller had seen death threats, strong-arming, and beatings. Now the violence had come home when his enemies burglarized his house, jacked his Corvette, and left behind this sneering piece of graffito.

Heller didn't get mad; he got even. Ruthless tells the explosive story of Jerry Heller's alliance with Eric Wright, aka Eazy-E, one of the legends of rap music and a founding member of N.W.A., "the world's most dangerous band." As a longtime music industry superagent, Heller had the skill and insight necessary to guide N.W.A.'s cometlike rise to the top of the charts. Along the way there were raucous nationwide tours, out-of-control MTV pool parties, and X-rated business meetings. Heller held on through the brutal shocks and reversals of the Ruthless Records era, which saw the label being targeted by the FBI, and its principal artists locked in bitter conflict, until a final turnaround placed Ruthless at the top of the heap once more. Always in the middle of the whirlwind were Jerry and Eazy, an odd-couple pairing that represents one of the deepest and most appealing stories in American music.

You don't have to be an N.W.A. fan to love Ruthless. Heller turns the music industry inside out, exposing its strange logic and larger-than-life personalities. Ruthless provides keen insight into the popular music scene, with an unforgettable portrait of its rollicking excesses, life-churning drama, and multimillion-dollar highs.
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  • Gallery Books | 
  • 336 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416937920 | 
  • October 2006
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About the Author

Jerry Heller
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Jerry Heller

Across five tumultuous decades, Jerry Heller has helped shape American popular music, breaking new talent, developing new trends, and forging an industry-wide reputation as "the guy who gets there first." He rose to prominence in the 1960s as a "superagent," importing Elton John and Pink Floyd for their first major American tours, and representing Journey, Marvin Gaye, Joan Armatrading, Van Morrison, War, Average White Band, ELO, Eric Burdon, and Crosby-Nash, among many others.

In the mid-1980s, Heller was the moving force and marketing genius behind the worldwide emergence of West Coast rap music. He not only cofounded Ruthless Records with Eazy-E, but discovered, signed, or managed the likes of N.W.A., The Black Eyed Peas, Above the Law, The D.O.C., and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Jerry Heller lives in Calabasas, California, with his wife, Gayle, a Realtor for Sotheby's; his sister-in-law, Vicki, an attorney; and their menagerie of animals.

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