For those who don’t know, Zapp is a group that was founded by four Troutman brothers in Dayton, Ohio as Roger Troutman moved on from his Roger and the Human Body band and developed a new project with Larry, Lester and Terry. Formed in 1978 after getting together with George Clinton and Bootsy Collins, Zapp hit it big with “More Bounce to the Ounce” featuring the trademark talk box sound that would become synonymous with Zapp and Roger. In addition to playing the talk box, Roger was an amazing guitarist. From the tight rhythm guitar on his long funk jams to his killer solos, he was the complete musician.
After Zapp and his solo project, Roger, began to slow their movement up the charts during the late 80s, he was rocketed back into fame with the hip hop movement as he became one of the most sampled artists. This lead to him being included on 2Pac & Dr. Dre’s “California Love” using the same talk box sound he made famous. Despite the talk box being so unique, they quickly went out of production leaving Roger and Lester no option but to construct their own talk boxes.
In addition to all the music going on, Roger and his brothers owned Troutman Enterprises & Construction. They’d take run down, ghetto neighborhood apartments and redo the carpeting, plastering, plumbing and electricity themselves. Afterwards the tenants could move back in and pay the same rent they were paying before the renovation. He was always community minded and tried to get the people of Dayton involved in any projects he had, at times taking huge financial losses along the way.
Unfortunately after a dispute with Larry, Roger was shot to death by his brother before Larry turned the gun on himself in 1999. This terrible tragedy ripped the band and the music world apart. After a few years passed, Zapp returned as a band playing in the name of Roger. They released a new album Zapp VI: Back By Popular Demand in 2002. They still tour with incredible live performances and a new generation is keeping this great music alive with original members Lester and Terry Troutman. There is even news of a new album, Zapp VII to be released within the year.
Here is a live clip of Zapp playing one of my favorite songs, “Dance Floor.” Roger was great at getting the crowd going and making sure everyone was engaged. His excellent guitar skills are on show here with a wild looking axe.