Troutman Sound Labs gets Ohio historical marker



Site was home base for the legendary Dayton-based funk group Zapp.

A major piece of Dayton’s rich funk history was physically cemented in Ohio history Friday morning.

The site of the former Troutman Sound Labs was dedicated with an Ohio historical marker in the center of the Salem and Catalpa Gateway. Mayor Nan Whaley led the commemoration ceremony that began with a soulful performance of “Amazing Grace” by R&B legend Shirley Murdock, who created music at the studio.

From 1983 until the tragic deaths of Roger and Larry Troutman in 1999, Troutman Sound Labs was the home base for Dayton-based funk group Zapp. The recording studio at Salem Avenue and Catalpa Drive was the site of recordings by Zapp and solo work from Roger Troutman, Shirley Murdock and the Ohio Players' Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner.

ExploreWhat the Troutman Sound Labs mean to Dayton and funk music history

Troutman brother Lester, accompanied by younger brother Terry Troutman, gave moving remarks just before the marker was unveiled.

“It almost brings me to tears as I walked around this morning, looking around at the memories that we had,” Troutman said. “This is more than ours; this is... this is amazing. This is really amazing. And I would like to say to my two brothers Roger and Larry, who lay to rest today — this was always a journey. The music was always a journey and always a dream of ours to be able to have our own.”

The project to secure the site with a historical marker began as an assignment for two Bowling Green State University graduate students, Kari Boroff and Jacqueline Hudson. Both, now BG alumni, spoke Friday morning during the ceremony.

“What started out as a school project blossomed into something that I could have never imagined,” Boroff said. ... “As a Dayton native, I already knew about the rich history of funk music that originated in the city, especially Zapp. However, I have to admit, at the beginning of this project, I did not know much about the Troutman Sound Lab. ... After discovering the wonderful contributions that were made through the recording studio, not only to the community but to the history of music, I realized that this site needed to be recognized and celebrated.”

Dayton’s funk legacy has been honored with an Ohio historical marker. The former site of Troutman Sound Labs, the Salem Avenue recording studio where music pioneer Roger Troutman and his family produced music, is the site of one of this year’s honors. LISA POWELL / STAFF

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

The Troutman sound was embraced in the 1990s by some of the biggest names in hip-hop. In addition to rap producers sampling the group’s recordings, Roger Troutman also appeared on Snoop Dogg’s “Doggystyle” (1993), “California Love” by 2Pac and Dr. Dre (1995) and Kool Keith’s “Master of the Game” (1999).

ExploreFunk innovator killed 21 years ago in one of Dayton’s most shocking murders

Roger Troutman was killed on April 25, 1999, by his brother Larry Troutman in a shocking murder-suicide.

In 2012, the statue that now stands directly behind the historical marker was installed in the Salem and Catalpa Gateway to honor Roger Troutman. The metalwork was created by Dayton artist Michael Bashaw.

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