Larry Troutman: Age 54 | Cause Of Death: SUICIDE
Born: Nov 29, 1951 in Hamilton, OH
Died: Apr 25, 1999 in Dayton, OH
Zapp’s Roger and Larry Troutman Found Dead In Apparent Murder-Suicide
Brothers Roger and Larry Troutman, founding members of seminal ’80s funk outfit Zapp, were found dead Sunday (April 25) morning near their Dayton, Ohio recording studio in an apparent murder-suicide.
Roger Troutman, 47, was found just outside the studio with several gunshots to his torso, according to the Associated Press. He died while in 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. Investigators believe the wound was self-inflicted, but won’t know for a few days whether a handgun found in the vehicle was the same as that responsible for Roger’s death.
Roger and Larry Troutman founded Zapp in 1975, along with their brothers Lester and Terry Troutman. The group became an important part of the funk scene in the early ’80s with such hit records as “More Bounce to the Ounce,” “Dance Floor,” and “Doo Wa Ditty.”
Roger, lead singer and guitarist for the group, frequently used a vocoder voice- distortion box for his lead vocals. The group’s future-funk vibe provided the transition between the sloppy grooves of Parliament in the late ’70s and the early electro foundations of hip-hop in the early ’80s. Later in the decade, Roger went solo and earned a crossover hit with the record “I Want To Be Your Man.” He later rejoined the family group under the moniker Zapp & Roger.
After depleting a finite reserve of James Brown and George Clinton samples, hip-hop artists also took a liking to Zapp. Most recently, Roger Troutman was used by 2Pac and Dr. Dre for their 1996 award-winning collaboration “California Love.” ~Jazzbo
Fuller Up The Dead Musicians Directory
Died: April 25, 1999
Cause Of Death: SUICIDE
Two Brothers In Zapp Dead In Apparent Murder-Suicide
Police say Larry shot younger sibling Roger then turned gun on himself.
Contributing Editor Brian Hiatt reports:
In an apparent murder-suicide that has baffled family, friends and investigators, Roger Troutman, leader of the funk band Zapp, was shot to death Sunday morning by his brother and bandmate Larry Troutman, who then ended his own life, according to police.
“Man, nobody really knows [why] — all we know is that two people that we really love are now dead,” Zapp bandmate Bigg Robb said.
The brothers were found two blocks apart Sunday in Dayton, Ohio, according to police spokesperson Det. Carol Thomas. Roger was still alive when police found him around 7:30 a.m. behind a recording studio he co-owned. He died later in surgery at Good Samaritan Hospital and Health Center. He was 47.
Larry, meanwhile, was found dead in a 1998 Lincoln four-door sedan, with a gunshot wound to his head that police believe was self-inflicted. He was 54.
Police are investigating Roger’s death as a homicide, but they are still trying to determine whether Larry’s death was a suicide, Thomas said.
“On initial investigation, though, it does appear that Larry Troutman shot his brother,” he said. Police are conducting tests to confirm that the same gun was fired in both shootings.
Zapp included Roger, Larry, their brothers Terry and Lester Troutman, and the group’s M.C., Bigg Robb. The group was formed in 1978 and scored hits such as “More Bounce to the Ounce” (1980) and “Dance Floor” (1982) . Roger later had a successful solo career, leading the band to change its name to Zapp & Roger.
Thomas, who called the deaths “baffling,” said police are questioning family members to help determine a possible motive in the case.
But Bigg Robb said Monday (April 26) that friends and family were at a loss to explain the tragedy.
Bigg Robb, who declined to give his birth name, said the group had just performed last week in Charlotte, N.C., and Roger had given no indication of a dispute with his brother Larry, who had retired from the band.
“This whole thing is such a shock; we couldn’t imagine this in a million years,” he said.
Robb said Roger was proud when Zapp’s music was embraced by hip-hop artists, beginning with EPMD’s 1988 song “You Gots to Chill,” which sampled Zapp’s “More…”
In 1996 Roger contributed his trademark, vocoderlike voicebox sound to rapper Dr. Dre’s duet with Tupac Shakur, “California Love,” Robb said. It had originally been intended as a Dr. Dre solo track, but when Death Row Records head Marion “Suge” Knight heard it, he suggested it be used for a planned duet with Shakur, Robb said.
R&B legend Stevie Wonder originally inspired Troutman to sing through the voicebox, a plastic device, also known as a golden throat or talkbox, which creates a robotlike vocal sound, Robb said. “Roger was influenced by Stevie Wonder — he saw Stevie Wonder years ago playing the voicebox on television, and he took the thing and modernized it. Roger was the undisputed master of it,” he explained.
Howie Klein, president of Reprise Records, which was Roger’s label both with Zapp and as a solo act, said he considered the frontman “a friend and a really great guy.”
According to Klein, Roger Troutman had been working on a new album, which he planned to call Zapp and Friends, and had recently recorded a cover of the ’60s song “(I Am) Superman,” made famous by Athens, Ga., superstars R.E.M., for the soundtrack to the now-aborted new “Superman” movie.
Roger “was a great human being with an incredibly creative mind — someone who always had ideas and was willing to work with other artists on those ideas. … I think his sound will really be what he’s remembered for; it was a totally unique sound that influenced a lot of people,” Klein said.
Bigg Robb described Roger Troutman as “a loveable person,” adding that “he never did anything to hurt anybody.”
“It’s a bad ending to a great life,” he said.
(Senior Writer Gil Kaufman contributed to this report.)
ENQUIRER LOCAL NEWS COVERAGE
Friday, April 30, 1999
Saturday services planned for Roger, Larry Troutman
Motive unclear in murder-suicide
BY LARRY NAGER and JANICE MORSE
The Cincinnati Enquirer
MONROE — Roger and Larry Troutman’s musical partnership took them from Tristate nightclubs to stadium concerts and the top of the national charts before it ended with their murder-suicide. The brothers will be remembered in a joint funeral service.
Services are 11 a.m. Saturday at the Solid Rock Church, 904 N. Union Road, for the Troutmans, who died Sunday after being shot near their family’s recording studio in Dayton, Ohio.
Police say Larry Troutman, 54, shot his 47-year-old brother before turning the gun on himself. No motive has been established for the shootings.
Roger Troutman was born Nov. 29, 1951, in Hamilton. He was a musical prodigy, playing clubs and dances throughout the Tristate before he was in his teens.
Known as Little Roger, he played several instruments but was best known as a guitarist. In the ’70s, he formed Roger & the Human Body, the group that led to Zapp.
Larry Troutman was born Aug. 12, 1944, in Hamilton. He began his musical career playing percussion in Zapp but went on to manage the band. Roger was the frontman, but “Larry was really the leader of the band. He took care of everything,” said Stan Hertzman, head of Cincinnati’s Umbrella Artists, who has known and worked with the Troutmans since the Human Body days.
Zapp included two other Troutman brothers, Lester, who played drums, and Terry, a bassist whose nickname, “Zapp,” was borrowed by the band.
Roger & Zapp first topped the R&B charts in 1980 with “More Bounce to the Ounce (Part 1).” Larry Troutman, then playing congas, left the band to be its manager.
There was no stopping the band, as Zapp made a home on the charts from 1980 to 1986 with such electronic funk hits as “Dance Floor (Part 1),” “Doo Wa Ditty (Blow That Thing),” I Can Make You Dance (Part 1)” and “Computer Love.”
Due to a contractual loophole, the group also scored hits as the “solo” act Roger, including a 1981 remake of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” “In the Mix” and 1987’s “I Want to Be Your Man.” Roger’s trademark was a voice synthesizer that gave him a futuristic, robotic sound. Many of those recordings were done at Cincinnati’s Fifth Floor Studios.
Though the onset of rap would knock Roger & Zapp off the charts, the band’s recordings were frequently “sampled” by rappers, resulting in a steady income of royalties.
The family’s company, Troutman Enterprises, put that money back into the community, as the brothers opened a recording studio, limousine service and sound and lighting equipment rental company. They expanded into construction, hiring and training unskilled workers from Dayton’s African-American community.
But bad business decisions resulted in Troutman Enterprises’ bankruptcy in 1992.
The last few years saw Roger on a major comeback. Rappers 2Pac and Dr. Dre enlisted him for the 1996 hit, “California Love,” for which they received a Grammy nomination.
Roger was back on the road with a new version of Zapp, enjoying his comeback as well as a general revival in “old-school” funk. He appeared at the 1997 and 1998 Coors Light Stadium Festivals and had been booked to play this summer’s event as well.
Reports are that the brothers fought after Roger had decided to dissolve his business relationship with Larry.
“Roger was the talent, but Larry was a great street-business guy,” says Mr. Hertzman, who spoke with Larry just a few weeks before the shooting. “They were a team. I don’t know where either would have been without the other.”
Their survivors, most of whom reside in the Dayton, Hamilton and Middletown areas, include their mother, Addie; three brothers, Rufus Jr., Lester and Terry; and two sisters, Loretta Varner and Janet Wright.
A Dayton-area resident for 32 years, Larry Troutman also leaves his wife, Lynette; son, Reginald; five daughters, Rosalind Williams, Taika Gonet, Tiffanie White-Troutman, Asia R. Collins and Amber D. Carroll; and four grandsons.
Roger Troutman, who lived 24 years in the Dayton area, leaves four sons, Roger Lynch, Larry Gates, Lester Gates and Taji J. Troutman; five daughters Dawn Shazier, Hope Shazier, Summer Gates, Mia Paris Collins and Gene Nicole Patterson; and a grandson.
The men were preceded in death by their father, Rufus Troutman Sr., and sisters Leona Troutman Gray and Gloria Lynn Troutman.
Friends may call at the church two hours prior to services. Burial will be in Greenwood Cemetery, Hamilton. The House of Wheat Funeral Home, Dayton, is in charge of arrangements.
Birth: Aug. 12, 1944
Death: Apr. 25, 1999
Musician, Businessman. He performed with his younger brothers in “Roger and the Human Body, “Zapp,” and “Roger and Zapp,” which was also known as “Zapp and Roger.” He left performing in the mid 1980s to manage the group full time as well as serve as president for Troutman Enterprises, which included the operation of recording studios, real-estate ventures and contracting. Larry and his brother Roger died under mysterious and violent circumstances. Evidence suggested that for reasons not well understood, Larry Troutman killed Roger and then killed himself, a few blocks away from where he shot Roger.