Roger Troutman

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Roger Troutman
Born (1951-11-29)November 29, 1951
Hamilton, Ohio, United States
Died April 25, 1999(1999-04-25) (aged 47)
Dayton, Ohio, United States
Genres Funk, Electro, G-funk
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter, producer
Instruments Vocals, talk box, guitar, keyboard, bass guitar, harmonica, vibraphone, flute
Years active 1975–1999
Labels Warner Bros., Reprise
Associated acts Zapp, Roger & the Human Body, Prince, Funkadelic, Shirley Murdock, 2Pac, Parliament, A.B. Quintanilla y los Kumbia Kings, EPMD, DJ Quik, The Crusaders, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Tech N9ne, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Spice 1, Jesse Rae, Danny Boy

Roger Troutman (November 29, 1951 – April 25, 1999), also known mononymously as Roger, was an American singer, composer, songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist and the founder of the band Zapp who helped spearhead the funk movement and heavily influenced west coast hip hop due to the scene's heavy sampling of his music over the years. Troutman was well known for his use of the talk box, a device that is connected to an instrument (frequently a keyboard, but most commonly a guitar) to create different vocal effects. Roger used a custom-made talkbox—the Electro Harmonix "Golden Throat," as well as a Moog Minimoog and later in his career a Yamaha DX100 FM synthesizer. As both band leader of Zapp and in his subsequent solo releases, he scored a bevy of funk and R&B hits throughout the 1980s.


Early career: Parliament-Funkadelic and Zapp

Born in Hamilton, Ohio, Roger was the fourth of ten children. He was a late-arriving member of Parliament-Funkadelic and played on the band's final Warner Brothers' album The Electric Spanking of War Babies. His first band Roger was The Crusaders; however, they are not to be confused with the jazz group featuring Joe Sample and Wilton Felder. The band played in Cincinnati and recorded a single, "Busted Surfboard"/"Seminole". The band members were Rick Schoeny, Roy Beck, Dave Spitzmiller, and Denny Niebold. Troutman had formed various other bands with his four brothers, including Little Roger and the Vels and Roger and the Human Body. In 1977, he and the Human Body issued "Freedom", their first single.

Within two years, Roger and his brothers were discovered by George Clinton, who signed the newly christened Zapp to his Uncle Jam Records label in 1979. The original line-up consisted of Roger Troutman, Larry Troutman, Lester Troutman, Terry Troutman, Gregory Jackson and Bobby Glover. Zapp made their professional television debut on the first and only Funk Music Awards show.

A year later, as Uncle Jam Records was forced to close, Zapp signed to Warner Bros. Records and released their self-titled debut, which yielded "More Bounce to the Ounce", a hot produced by Bootsy Collins produced and written by Troutman. The song peaked at number two on the Billboard Soul Singles chart in the fall of 1980. The debut album reached the top 20 of the Billboard 200.

From 1980 to 1985, Zapp released the gold-selling albums Zapp, Zapp II, Zapp III and The New Zapp IV U and released top 10 R&B hit singles such as "Be Alright", "Dance Floor", "I Can Make You Dance", "Heartbreaker", "It Doesn't Really Matter" and "Computer Love". Throughout Zapp's tenure, the original lineup grew to around 15. In 1993, the group scored their biggest-selling album when Zapp & Roger: All the Greatest Hits, a compilation album, was released. It featured remixed cuts of Roger's solo singles, the new single "Slow and Easy", and "Mega Medley", which put together a collection of the group's hit singles in a remix. The album sold over two million copies giving the collective their most successful album to date. After the untimely death of Roger and Larry, the remaining brothers released the album Zapp VI: Back by Popular Demand in 2002.

Solo career and production work on other artists

In 1981, upon the fast-paced success of Zapp's first album, Troutman cut The Many Facets of Roger, his first solo album. Featuring his frenetic funk cover of Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine", the song went to number one on the R&B singles chart helping the album sell over a million copies. The album also featured the hit "So Ruff, So Tuff", which was similar to "More Bounce..." as were most Roger/Zapp singles during this time. In 1984, Troutman issued his second solo album The Saga Continues..., which featured the singles "Girl Cut It Out", "It's in the Mix", which was dedicated to Soul Train and its host Don Cornelius, and a cover of Wilson Pickett's "In the Midnight Hour", which featured gospel group The Mighty Clouds of Joy. In 1987, Troutman scored his most successful solo album with Unlimited!, which featured the massive hit "I Want to Be Your Man", which rose to number one R&B and number three on the Billboard Hot 100.

Alongside his successful careers as Zapp member and solo star, Troutman also became a hands-on producer and writer for other artists including Shirley Murdock, whose 1985 platinum debut featured the Roger-produced hit "As We Lay". He also produced for Zapp member Dale DeGroat on his solo efforts. In 1988, Troutman made an appearance on Scritti Politti's third album Provision, providing talk box vocals on the songs "Boom There She Was" and "Sugar and Spice".

Three years later, Troutman released his final solo album with Bridging the Gap, featuring the hit "Everybody (Get Up)". He worked with Elvis Costello on the song "The Other Side of Summer". In 1989, NBA Entertainment selected Troutman among a variety of renowned candidates to record a tribute song called "I'm So Happy" for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Career re-emergence

After the release of All the Greatest Hits, Roger Troutman primarily toured. Troutman was starting to be featured on hip-hop songs by this time, agreeing to appear on rapper Snoop Dogg's 1993 debut Doggystyle. In 1995 he was featured on Eazy-E's posthumous album Str8 off tha Streetz of Muthaphukkin Compton on "Eternal E". The same year Troutman performed vocals on 2Pac and Dr. Dre's single "California Love". The song became Troutman's biggest-selling and most successful single to date as the song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100[1] and sold over two million copies giving Troutman a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.[2] This success led to Troutman being included in a top 10 R&B hit cover of The Persuaders' "Thin Line Between Love and Hate", which he produced and enlisted the talk box with Shirley Murdock and R&B group H-Town. The movie soundtrack to A Thin Line Between Love and Hate also included a club hit "Chocolate City". In 1998, he appeared in a remix version of Sounds of Blackness' "Hold On (A Change Is Coming)", which sampled Zapp's "Doo-Wah Ditty (Blow That Thang)". Roger's last recorded on the song "Master of the Game" from rapper Kool Keith's album Black Elvis/Lost In Space.


On the morning of April 25, 1999, Troutman was found shot and critically wounded outside his northwest Dayton recording studio around 7.00 a.m. According to doctors, the 47-year-old had been shot several times in the torso and listed in critical condition. Troutman died during surgery at the Good Samaritan Hospital and Health Center. Roger's brother Larry was found dead in a car a few blocks away with a single gunshot wound to the head. A pistol was found inside the vehicle, which matched the description of a car leaving the scene of Roger Troutman's shooting, according to witnesses.[3] The gun found with Larry Troutman also matched the one that fired the fatal shots at Roger, suggesting that Larry had shot Roger and then committed suicide.[3] With both men dead, and with no known witnesses, the specific motive for the incident was suspected to be a murder-suicide. Friends and family could only speculate that the source of a dispute was a rising tension between the brothers over issues such as Larry's financial troubles and Roger's desire to dissolve their business partnership.

Troutman, who lived 24 years in the Dayton area, was survived by six sons: Taji Troutman, Ryan Stevens, Brent Lynch, Lester Gates, Larry Gates and Roger Lynch (deceased); six daughters: Totihana Troutman, Gene Anderson, Mia Paris Fayson, Summer Gates, Hope Shazier and Daun Shazier: and nine grandchildren: Lonnie Wright III, Lara Shazier Thomas, Joy Love, Ruth Love and Samuel Williams

Solo discography

Studio albums

Title Album details Peak chart positions
U.S. 200 U.S. R&B
The Many Facets of Roger 26 1
The Saga Continues 64 13
  • Released: 1987 (1987)
  • Label: Reprise
35 4
Bridging the Gap
  • Released: 1991 (1991)
  • Label: Reprise


Year Song Peak chart positions Album
Hot 100
1981 "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" 79 1 25 The Many Facets of Roger
1982 "Do It Roger" 24
1984 "In the Mix" 10 The Saga Continues
"In the Midnight Hour" 34
1985 "Girl, Cut It Out" 79
1987 "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" Unlimited!
"I Want to Be Your Man" 3 1 22
"If You're Serious"
1988 "Thrill Seekers" 27
1991 "(Everybody) Get Up" 19 Bridging the Gap
"You Should Be Mine"
1992 "Take Me Back" 37

As featured artist

List of songs as a featured artist, with selected chart positions, showing album name and the year the album was released
Year Single Peak chart positions Album
1988 "Boom! There She Was"
(Scritti Politti featuring Roger Troutman)
53 94 Provision
1994 "Put Your Lovin' Through the Test"
(Keith Sweat featuring Roger Troutman)
Get up on it
1995 "California Love"
(2Pac featuring Dr. Dre & Roger Troutman)
1 1 All Eyez on Me
1996 "It's Your Body"
(Johnny Gill featuring Roger Troutman)
43 19 Let's Get the Mood Right
1997 "Sweet Sexy Thing"
(Nu Flavor featuring Roger Troutman)
62 93 Nu Flavor
"Down for Yours"
(Nastyboy Klick featuring Roger Troutman)
69 58 The First Chapter
1998 "Playaz Need No Love"
(H-Bomb featuring Roger Troutman)
"Raza Park"
(Latino Velvet featuring Frost, N2Deep, & Roger Troutman)
Latino Velvet Project
1999 "Master of the Game"
(Kool Keith featuring Roger Troutman)
Black Elvis/Lost In Space


  1. ^ "2Pac Billboard Chart History". Retrieved 2007-04-12. 
  2. ^ "Grammy Archive". Retrieved 2004-04-12. 
  3. ^ a b "California Loved". Retrieved 2007-04-12. 

External links

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