Weekend Concert Series – Roger Troutman and Zapp

I almost gave you tickets to an old Van Halen show this week, but instead I decided that we needed to have a bit of funky fun with Roger Troutman and Zapp.

Roger is a guitar, bass, and keyboard playing funkster from Dayton, Ohio. He and Zapp (made of many Troutmans) had a string of R&B hits in the 70’s and 80’s with songs like More Bounce to the Ounce, Dancefloor, So Ruff So Tuff, Doo Wa Ditty, and remakes of classics like Heard It Through The Grapevine and Midnight Hour.

Computer Love (featured here 26 minutes in) was a visionary hit, successfully predicting online video dating a decade before the web even existed. It is a very slow and sexy jam, too.

Roger’s trademark was the talkbox, a vocal effect used with great effect on almost all of Zapp’s well-known songs. Rock fans know it as the thing Peter Frampton uses.

In this 1988 show they are playing to a somewhat-hometown crowd at Roselawn Park in Cincinnati. You have to sit through five minutes of introduction before Roger arrives on stage, but then the show really starts to take off. They run through a string of their own hits ans well as a few covers, and many goofy stage moves. There are even some costume changes.

Roger was a fan of Prince, P-Funk, Michael Jackson, and Motown, and it came across in his music and showmanship. Zapp is heavily sampled by rappers today.

Unfortunately, his brother Larry shot and killed him for unknown reasons in 1999. He was 47.


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