Roger Troutman

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Roger Troutman
Background information
Born(1951-11-29)November 29, 1951
Hamilton, Ohio, United States
DiedApril 25, 1999(1999-04-25) (aged 47)
Dayton, Ohio, United States
GenresFunk, R&B, Blues, hip hop, g-funk
OccupationsMusician, songwriter, producer
InstrumentsVocals, talk box, guitar, keyboard, bass guitar, harmonica, vocoder
Years active1975-99
LabelsWarner Bros., Reprise, Oarfin
Associated actsZapp, Roger & the Human Body, Prince, Funkadelic, Shirley Murdock, A.B. Quintanilla y los Kumbia Kings, DJ Quik, The Crusaders, Tupac Shakur, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Tech N9ne, Snoop Dogg, Spice 1
 
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Roger Troutman
Background information
Born(1951-11-29)November 29, 1951
Hamilton, Ohio, United States
DiedApril 25, 1999(1999-04-25) (aged 47)
Dayton, Ohio, United States
GenresFunk, R&B, Blues, hip hop, g-funk
OccupationsMusician, songwriter, producer
InstrumentsVocals, talk box, guitar, keyboard, bass guitar, harmonica, vocoder
Years active1975-99
LabelsWarner Bros., Reprise, Oarfin
Associated actsZapp, Roger & the Human Body, Prince, Funkadelic, Shirley Murdock, A.B. Quintanilla y los Kumbia Kings, DJ Quik, The Crusaders, Tupac Shakur, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Tech N9ne, Snoop Dogg, Spice 1

Roger Troutman (November 29, 1951 – April 25, 1999) was an American singer, songwriter, producer and the lead vocalist 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) to create different vocal effects. Roger used a custom-made talkbox—the Electro Harmonix "Golden Throat," as well as a Yamaha DX100 FM synthesizer. As both lead singer of Zapp and in his subsequent solo releases, he scored a bevy of funk and R&B hits throughout the 1980s. In his later years, he was mostly known for singing the chorus to the hip-hop classic by Tupac Shakur, "California Love".

Contents

Biography

Early life and career

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. Beforehand, Troutman had formed various 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 their first single, "Freedom". 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. 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 the Bootsy Collins produced & Troutman-composed hit, "More Bounce to the Ounce." 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 and firmly launched Zapp and Roger into the national spotlight.

Between 1980 and 1985, Zapp released gold-selling albums such as Zapp, Zapp II, Zapp III and New Zapp IV U and released top ten R&B hit singles such as "Be Alright", "Dance Floor", "I Can Make You Dance", "Heartbreaker", "It Doesn't Really Matter" - which was a tribute to black artists of the past and present, and the Charlie Wilson and Shirley Murdock-assisted funk ballad, "Computer Love". Zapp's hit making magic faded shortly after the release of their fifth album, Vibe, in 1989. The album would become the group's final studio album though they continued to release singles into the 1990s releasing the hits "Slow & Easy" and "Mega Medley", which put together a collection of the group's hit singles in a remix. Throughout Zapp's tenure, the original five-member lineup grew to around fifteen. Troutman also made a habit of producing solo efforts for Zapp band members and associated acts. In 1993, the group scored their biggest-selling album when a compilation album, Zapp & Roger: All the Greatest Hits, was released. Featuring remixed cuts of Roger's solo singles and featuring the "Mega Medley", the album sold over two million copies giving the collective their most successful album to date.

Solo career and production work on other artists

In 1981, upon the fast-paced success of Zapp's first album, Troutman cut his first solo album, The Many Facets of Roger. Featuring his frenetic funk cover of Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine", the song exploded 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 in one verse, 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. In 1988, Troutman worked with Scritti Politti providing talk box vocals on the hit "Boom There She Was". Three years later, Troutman released his final solo album with Bridging the Gap, featuring the hit "Everybody (Get Up)". 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. He worked with Elvis Costello as a guest appearance on 1991's Mighty Like a Rose 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, who at the time was in the final year of his record-breaking, 20-year career in the NBA.

Career re-emergence

After the release of All the Greatest Hits, Roger and Zapp were basically existing as a touring group only recording sporadically. 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 post-mortem album Str8 off tha Streetz of Muthaphukkin Compton on the last track Eternal E along with DJ Yella. The same year Troutman agreed to enlist 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 ten R&B hit cover of The Persuaders' "Thin Line Between Love and Hate", which he produced and enlisted the talk box alongside Shirley Murdock and R&B group H-Town. The A Thin Line Between Love and Hate movie soundtrack 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 Thing)". Throughout the 1990s, Roger was promoted heavily by Timothy Olague Entertainment in shows at emerging Indian Casinos in Arizona and California. Troutman also had a career with Sounds of Blackness.

Death

On a Sunday morning, April 25, 1999, Roger Troutman was found shot and critically wounded outside his northwest Dayton recording studio around 7 a.m. According to doctors, the 47-year-old had been shot several times in the torso and was in critical condition; he died during surgery at the local hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital and Health Center. Roger's brother Larry was discovered 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 which fired the fatal shots into Roger, indicating that Larry had shot Roger and then taken his own life.[3] With both men dead, and with no witnesses to whatever confrontation preceded the shooting, the specific motive for the attack remains unknown. Friends and family were able to offer only a general explanation that there had been rising tension between the brothers over issues such as Larry's financial troubles and Roger's desire to dissolve their business partnership. However, given that the two had always been especially close to one another, and with neither man having a history of violence, no one had suspected that those issues might be significant enough to portend bloodshed between them.[3]

Roger Troutman, who lived 24 years in the Dayton area, left 6 sons: Roger Lynch (January 31, 1970 - January 22, 2003), Larry Gates, Lester Gates, Brent Lynch, Ryan Stevens and Taji J. Troutman; 5 daughters, Daun Shazier, Hope Shazier, Summer Gates, Mia Paris Collins, Gene Nicole Anderson; and 4 grandchildren. In remembrance, Roger's nephew Clet Troutman sang "Amazing Grace" through a talkbox at his funeral.

Legacy

Even before his death, several hip-hop and R&B artists had sampled Troutman in one form or another since EPMD sampled "More Bounce to the Ounce" for their breakthrough 1988 hit, "You Gots to Chill". Credited with being one of the forefathers of G-funk and the West Coast hip-hop scene, his frenetic hand-clapped, bass-driven beats inspired the productions of songs released by DJ Quik, Eazy-E, Warren G, Spice 1, Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, E-40, Ice Cube, Tech N9ne, Brotha Lynch Hung, Sicx and even East Coast rapper The Notorious B.I.G. on his 1997 song, "Going Back to Cali". Troutman, having been influenced by Stevie Wonder, put the talk box to good use in the 1980s and that sound was heard in other funk and urban productions throughout the 1980s bringing in the electro-funk.

Rapper/Producer DJ Quik's second track on his 2005 album Trauma titled "Intro for Roger" is dedicated to Roger Troutman, whom he credits teaching him the voice box as used extensively on Quik's 1995 album Safe & Sound. He also composed a dedication track on his 2000 album Balance & Options titled "Roger's Groove".

Rapper Nas also referred to Roger and Larry Troutman's death in his 2007 song "Blunt Ashes" off his Hip Hop Is Dead album.

The song and associated music video of "Sexual Eruption" by Snoop Dogg is understood to be a tribute to Troutman as well.

Kool Keith, under the alias Dr. Octagon, referenced him in "Technical Difficulties" from his 1996 breakthrough Dr. Octagonecologyst, "Like Roger my funk is more powerful than Troutman".

Tech N9ne shouts out Roger in the single 2010 "O.G" rapping "get her hot and ready listing to Roger Troutman" the voice box is also used throughout the song. He also has a song with Troutman called Twisted off of his 2001 album Anghellic, which interpolates Troutman's I Want to Be Your Man.

References in criticism of Auto-Tune

Buckshot & KRS-One released the song "Robot", criticizing the proliferation of Auto-Tune. One of the lines in the song is:

"The best to do it was Roger Troutman.
Nah shorty, T-Pain didn't come out then."

Also, New York rapper Cormega mentions Troutman in an interview: "So now you got respectable artists doing something that Roger Troutman made dope, but these people [using Auto-Tune] are fuckin’ it up." T-pain referenced Roger Troutman in the song "Karaoke": "Let me get a moment of silence for the late great Roger Troutman." At the video shoot of this song, T-Pain said that he and Teddy Riley were collaborating and using unreleased material from Roger Troutman. French electronic duo Daft Punk have mentioned Roger as one of their biggest influences.

L.A. area DJ/Rapper/Producer DâM-FunK throws out a R.I.P. shout-out to Roger in the title track of his "Hood Pass Intact EP".

And last but not least, Dr. Dre praises Troutman on the Up in Smoke Tour DVD.

Solo discography

References

External links