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Zapp Biography

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Zapp In-depth Biography

One of the most underrated funk} groups of the 1980s, Zapp} revolutionized the computer pop} of electro} with their trademark vocoder talk boxes and bumping grooves, emulating the earthier side of Prince} and Cameo}, with a leader in Roger Troutman} who was more than efficient at polished production. The family group, with brothers Roger}, Lester}, Larry}, and Tony Troutman}, grew up in Hamilton, OH, influenced by hometown heroes the Ohio Players} as well as Parliament} and other funk} groups. Tony} was the first to begin recording, with an obscure single for Gram-O-Phon Records}, "I Truly Love You,"} which scraped the R&B} charts in 1976. Joined by his brothers (with Roger} on vocals and guitar, Lester} on drums, Larry} on percussion, and himself contributing bass) and christened Zapp}, the group played around the Midwest and gradually picked up backing vocalists (Bobby Glover}, Jannetta Boyce}), keyboard players (Greg Jackson}, Sherman Fleetwood}) and a horn section (Eddie Barber}, Jerome Derrickson}, Mike Warren}).

Zapp}'s following quickly gained notices, and Bootsy Collins} himself was hired on to work with the group on their debut album. Released in 1980, Zapp} hit the Top 20 on the pop} charts, thanks to the single "More Bounce to the Ounce."} The following year, Roger} worked on Funkadelic}'s The Electric Spanking of War Babies} and released his solo debut album, The Many Facets of Roger}. His special cover of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine,"} complete with vocoderized talk box, pushed the album into gold territory (as Zapp} had done). Zapp II} appeared in 1982 and proved just as popular as the group's first, including Zapp}'s only number one R&B} single, "Dance Floor."

Zapp III} barely made the Top 40 pop} charts upon release in 1983, and Roger}'s second solo album, The Saga Continues}, was also a disappointment, though his cover of "Midnight Hour"} featured the Mighty Clouds of Joy}. The New Zapp IV U} fared slightly better after release in late 1985 (thanks to the single "Computer Love"}), but in 1987, Roger}'s third solo album, Unlimited!}, featured the group's biggest hit yet, "I Want to Be Your Man,"} a chart-topper on the R&B} lists and a respectable number three pop}. Though Roger} and/or Zapp} hit the R&B} charts frequently during the rest of the late '80s, the unit had effectively halted recording with the 1991 Roger} LP Bridging the Gap}. Roger} continued to produce and play with other artists, and it was his talk box that graced Dr. Dre} & 2Pac}'s Top Ten 1996 single "California Love."} The 1993 Roger & Zapp} collection All the Greatest Hits} sold well, earning the collective their first platinum record. The Zapp} story ended in tragedy on April 25, 1999, when Roger} was shot to death by Larry}, who then turned the gun on himself. ~ John Bush, All Music Guide

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