Dayton funk icon gets love in new Netflix series

Roger Troutman in an undated publicity photo probably from the early 1980s. Troutman, a musician and leader of the band Zapp, was shot and killed by his brother, Larry Troutman, on April 25, 1999.

Combined ShapeCaption
Roger Troutman in an undated publicity photo probably from the early 1980s. Troutman, a musician and leader of the band Zapp, was shot and killed by his brother, Larry Troutman, on April 25, 1999.

An episode of a new Netflix series about pop music, “This is Pop,” includes a segment about one of Dayton’s most beloved funk music icons.

Premiering in May, the series episode called “Auto-Tune” focuses on rapper-singer T-Pain and the use of vocal-pitch altering technology. Looking back, a bit of the episode touches upon the influence of the late Roger Troutman, the charismatic mastermind of Zapp, the popular funk band from Dayton.

ExploreOregon District shooting: Gone but not forgotten two years after Dayton’s dark day

Born in Hamilton, Troutman recorded at his studio in northwest Dayton.

Troutman’s unique, hard funk sound stood out for his pioneering use of a sound-altering vocoder, or talk box. The “This Is Pop” auto-tune episode includes vintage footage of Troutman making his musical magic. A scene shows Troutman talk-singing — with the vocoder wiring in his mouth — all the while playing to the camera.

With Zapp and later as the solo act billed as just Roger, Troutman bolstered Dayton’s already well-known funk legacy with hits such as “More Bounce to the Ounce,” “Computer Love” and, later, 1987′s mainstream chart breakthrough “I Want to Be Your Man,” an electro-pop ballad that peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard pop chart in early 1988. In 1996, rapper Tupac Shakur’s collaboration with Dr. Dre and Troutman, “California Love,” a hip-hop classic, topped the Billboard pop chart.

Sadly and shockingly, Troutman was shot and killed by his brother and fellow Zapp band member Larry Troutman in a murder-suicide in 1999.

ExploreAmerican roots: Fairborn festival celebrates bluegrass music

Last year the former Salem Avenue site of Troutman Sound Labs, where Troutman and Zapp recorded their groundbreaking music, was honored with an Ohio historical marker.

ExploreBlock party! Food, entertainment fundraiser for Gem City Bicycle Club this weekend

“This is Pop” can be streamed on Netflix. Through its eight episodes, the series explores pivotal moments in the history of pop.

About the Author