Zapp & Roger

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Bios: Zapp, Roger Troutman & Shirley Murdock
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Group Members:
Roger Troutman (Born November 29, 1951 in Hamilton, OH – Died April 25, 1999 (found shot and critically wounded by brother, Larry, in Dayton, OH))
Larry Troutman (Born August 12, 1944 - Died April 25, 1999 (Suicide after shooting Roger in Dayton, OH))
Lester Troutman
Tony Troutman
Terry "Zapp" Troutman
Shirley Murdock (Born in Toledo, OH)

See Also: Parliament-Funkadelic & Roger Troutman II

Zapp - Vibe
Roger Troutman - The Many Facets Of Roger
Roger Troutman - Bridging The Gap
Zapp & Roger - All The Greatest Hits
Roger & Zapp - The Compilation: Greatest Hits II And More
Zapp & Roger - We Can Make You Dance: The Zapp & Roger Anthology

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Zapp's Bio From AllMusic.Com
One of the most underrated funk groups of the 1980s, Zapp revolutionized the computer pop of electro with their trademark vocoder talk boxes and bumping grooves, emulating the earthier side of Prince and Cameo, with a leader in Roger Troutman who was more than efficient at polished production. The family group, with brothers Roger, Lester, Larry, and Tony Troutman, grew up in Hamilton, Ohio, influenced by hometown heroes the Ohio Players as well as Parliament and other funk groups. Tony was the first to begin recording, with an obscure single for Gram-O-Phon Records, "I Truly Love You," which scraped the R&B charts in 1976. Joined by his brothers (with Roger on vocals and guitar, Lester on drums, Larry on percussion and himself contributing bass) and christened Zapp, the group played around the Midwest and gradually picked up backing vocalists (Bobby Glover, Jannetta Boyce), keyboard players (Greg Jackson, Sherman Fleetwood) and a horn section (Eddie Barber, Jerome Derrickson, Mike Warren).

Zapp's following quickly gained notices, and Bootsy Collins himself was hired on to work with the group on their debut album. Released in 1980, Zapp hit the Top 20 on the pop charts, thanks to the single "More Bounce to the Ounce." The following year, Roger worked on Funkadelic's The Electric Spanking of War Babies and released his solo debut album, The Many Facets of Roger. His special cover of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," complete with vocoderized talk box, pushed the album into gold territory (as Zapp had done). Zapp II appeared in 1982 and proved just as popular as the group's first, including Zapp's only number one R&B single, "Dance Floor."

Zapp III barely made the Top 40 pop charts upon release in 1983, and Roger's second solo album, The Saga Continues, was also a disappointment, though his cover of "Midnight Hour" featured the Mighty Clouds of Joy. The New Zapp IV U fared slightly better after release in late 1985 (thanks to the single "Computer Love"), but in 1987, Roger's third solo album, Unlimited!, featured the group's biggest hit yet, "I Want to Be Your Man," a chart-topper on the R&B lists and a respectable number three pop. Though Roger and/or Zapp hit the R&B charts frequently during the rest of the late '80s, the unit had effectively halted recording with the 1991 Roger LP Bridging The Gap. Roger continued to produce and play with other artists, and it was his talk box that graced Dr. Dre & 2Pac's Top Ten 1996 single "California Love." The 1993 Roger & Zapp collection All The Greatest Hits sold well, earning the collective their first platinum record. The Zapp story ended in tragedy on April 25, 1999 when Roger was shot to death by Larry, who then turned the gun on himself. — John Bush

Roger Troutman's Bio From AllMusic.Com
Innovative funkster Roger Troutman was the master of the vocoder — a keyboard synthesizer that created robotic-sounding vocals through the simultaneous use of a piano-like interface and a breath controller (breath tube), somewhat like a guitar talk box. What James Jamerson did for the bass, Jimi Hendrix for the guitar, and Stevie Wonder for the harmonica, Troutman did for the vocoder. As a member of Zapp, a band that included his brothers Larry, Lester, and Tony, and recording under the solo moniker of Roger, he helped define and give life to a difficult-to-play instrument that previously was used for gimmicky effects and, as played by others, was basically devoid of personality. With his winning smile and charming playfulness, Troutman was a favorite on stage and record. He'd often bring his vocoder along on radio interviews, treating the listeners to his amazing vocoder skills.

Born November 29, 1951, in Hamilton, OH, Troutman developed his musical skills in the thriving Dayton, OH, R&B/soul/funk scene of the '70s along with the Ohio Players and others. As protégé of Parliament-Funkadelic's George Clinton and with Troutman's vocoder-filtered vocals up front, Zapp had several hits for Warner Bros. Records during the '80s: "More Bounce to the Ounce" (number two R&B for two weeks, fall 1980), "Be Alright Pt.1" (number 26 R&B, late 1980), "Dance Floor (Part 1)" (number one R&B, summer 1982), "Doo Wa Ditty (Blow That Thing)" (number ten R&B, fall 1982), "I Can Make You Dance (Pt.1)" (number four R&B, summer 1983), "Heartbreaker (Pt.1)" (number 15 R&B, fall 1983), the funk/pop music legends tribute "It Doesn't Really Matter" (number 41 R&B, fall 1985), the classic "Computer Love (Pt.1)" (number eight R&B, late 1986, "Ooh Baby Baby" (number 18 R&B, fall 1989), and Zapp & Roger's "Mega Medley" (number 30 R&B, summer 1993).

Like his mentor Clinton, who recorded for several labels at the same time under different monikers, Troutman recorded simultaneously as Roger, releasing albums and hit singles on Warner Bros. and its subsidiary label Reprise: a cover of the Gladys Knight and the Pips/Marvin Gaye hit "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" (number one R&B for two weeks, fall 1981), "Do It Roger" (number 24 R&B, late 1981), "In the Mix" (number ten R&B, spring 1984), a cover of Wilson Pickett's "Midnight Hour Pt.1" featuring the Mighty Clouds of Joy (number 34 R&B, spring 1984), "I Want to Be Your Man" (number one R&B, number three pop, fall 1987), "Thrill Seekers" (number 27 R&B, early 1988), "(Everybody) Get Up" (number 19 R&B, fall 1991), "Take Me Back" (number 37 R&B, early 1992), "Slow and Easy" (number 18 R&B, fall 1993), and the remix of "Computer Love" featuring Shirley Murdock and Charlie Wilson (number 65 R&B). Troutman also guested on "Boom! There She Was" by the group Scritti Politti (number 53 pop, summer 1988.

In the mid-'80s, Troutman opened a state-of-the-art recording studio in Dayton called Troutman Sound Labs. Working with singer Shirley Murdock and the Ohio Players' Sugarfoot, Troutman recorded material whose resulting vinyl LP releases had pristine, almost CD-quality clarity before there were CDs. Murdock had hits with "No More" (number 24 R&B), "As We Lay" (number five R&B, fall 1986), "Go on Without You" (number five R&B, early 1987), "Husband" (number five R&B, summer 1988), "In Your Eyes" (number seven R&B, summer 1991), and "Stay With Me Tonight" (number 34 R&B, fall 1991). Sugarfoot's late-'80s Warner Bros. LP Kiss is a favorite of funk connoisseurs.

As the hits waned, the Troutman brothers opened a housing business headed by their brother Larry that in the '90s, according to published reports, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, owing over three million dollars in debt and over $400,000 in delinquent taxes.

During the late '90s, Troutman enjoyed a renaissance. Zapp & Roger's hits were sampled by a slew of rap and hip-hop artists including Hammer, 2Pac, Dru Hill, Dr. Dre, Kris Kross, Blackstreet, Janet Jackson, the Notorious B.I.G., H-Town, Ice Cube, Redman, EPMD, Ralph Tresvant, and Snoop Dogg. Troutman was spotlighted on Johnny Gill's 1997 single "It's Your Body." On the morning of April 25, 1999, Roger Troutman was found shot behind the alley of his Roger Tee Enterprises. Witnesses reported seeing a man in a black car leave the scene of the crime. His brother Larry, a former Zapp member, was found fatally shot in a Lincoln sedan crashed against a tree seven blocks from the studio. The county coroner ruled the shootings a murder/suicide. Roger Troutman died at age 47 on April 25, 1999, at Good Samaritan Hospital in Dayton, OH. Roger Troutman's last two tracks, "Party Time" and "Nuthin' but a Party," are on the compilation United We Funk from Major Label/Pyramid/Rhino. The set includes tracks by Rick James, the SOS Band, the Gap Band, ConFunkShun, and the System. The following year, Thump Records released Tribute to Roger Troutman, which featured hip-hop and R&B songs that sampled and showcased Troutman's work. — Ed Hogan

Shirley Murdock's Bio From AllMusic.Com
Singer/songwriter Shirley Murdock is best known for the ethereal ballad "As We Lay," which was produced by Roger Troutman. Murdock started out singing gospel music in her native Toledo. Troutman hired her as a background singer for his family's group Zapp, who had several hits on Warner Brothers (or its Reprise imprint). Based on this success, Troutman began recording tracks with Murdock and lead singer Sugarfoot of the Ohio Players, among others, at his Dayton-based recording studio Troutman Sound Labs.

Murdock and Troutman's first charting single was a Warner single issued as Roger (Featuring Shirley Murdock), "Girl, Cut It Out," which charted at number 79 R&B in early 1985. Murdock was signed to Elektra Records with the pumping "No More," which made it to number 24 R&B in early 1986. Then came her signature hit, "As We Lay," written by Zapp's Larry Troutman and keyboardist Billy Beck (of the Ohio Players). The tender, melancholy ballad made it to the R&B Top Ten and peaked at number 23 pop in 1986. Her LP Shirley Murdock went gold, also helped along by the follow-up hits "Go on Without You" and "Be Free." She also released full-lengths in 1988 (A Woman's Point of View) and 1991 (Let There Be Love). In early 2000, Murdock toured in the inspirational/gospel play, Be Careful What You Pray For with Cuba Gooding and David Peaston. - Ed Hogan

Official Sites: Roger & Zapp, Zapp MySpace, Terry's MySpace & Roger's MySpace

Roger Troutman

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