Friday, April 30, 1999

Saturday services planned for Roger, Larry Troutman

Motive unclear in murder-suicide

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.


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