Zapp (also known as the Zapp Band or Zapp and Roger) is a soul and funk band formed in 1978 by brothers Roger Troutman, Larry Troutman, Lester Troutman, Terry Troutman, Bobby Glover and Gregory Jackson. Known for hits such as "More Bounce to the Ounce", "Dance Floor" and "Computer Love", the group was a partial source of inspiration to West Coast hip-hop and G-funk, which came out of the hand clapped-drum beat styled funk of Zapp's records, with Roger's use of the talk box becoming another reason for the group's impact and its success.
The nucleus of Zapp circled around two of the five Troutman brothers: Lester and Roger. The duo of Lester and Roger started several groups including Little Roger and the Vels. Larry eventually joined his brothers when their name became Roger and the Human Body, which also included youngest brother Terry, Bobby Glover and Gregory Jackson [Cincinnati Ohio Funk Keyboardist]. Larry was then the road manager and the leader of the group in terms of all major decisions and connections.
Roger was also childhood friends with Cincinnati native Bootsy Collins, who made a pact with Roger that whoever became famous first would reach back to help the other. True to his word, Bootsy brought Roger to the attention of Parliament-Funkadelic leader George Clinton. Bootsy introduced Roger to the public during the Parliament Motor Booty Affair tour of 1979. Bootsy and George were instrumental in securing a record deal for Roger and Zapp with Warner Brothers Records in late 1979. Upon the release of the hit single "More Bounce to the Ounce" Roger formed a new band. The original members were: Roger Troutman, Larry Troutman, Lester Troutman, Terry Troutman, Gregory Jackson, Bobby Glover, Jannetta Boyce, Sherman Fleetwood, Jerome Derrickson, Eddie Barber, Michael Warren. Roger took the show on the road opening for many major acts, including Prince, the Commodores, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Ashford and Simpson, Kool and the Gang and Cameo.
Released in the late summer of 1980, Zapp's seminal self-titled debut album became a gold-selling success peaking at the top twenty of the Billboard Top 200 and number one on the Soul album chart, thanks to the success of their leading single, the Roger composition, "More Bounce to the Ounce", which reached number two on the Hot Soul Singles chart.
After the success of Zapp's debut album, Roger started work on a solo project that was slated to be released on George Clinton's newly formed Uncle Jam Records label. After finishing the recording, Roger was approached by Warner Bros. with an offer to release the album on their label instead of Uncle Jam, influenced by the success of the first Zapp album. Warner also offered Roger more money, which lead Roger to sell the recordings of what would eventually become "The Many Facets of Roger" to Warners. This move facilitated a lawsuit involving Warner Bros, Roger Troutman, and George Clinton, which ultimately resulted in Clinton and Funkadelic leaving Warner Bros.
Zapp's trek to fame continued within the Troutmans, who started Troutman Enterprises shortly after the Zapp album was released. Roger, who was the leader of the group and most famous for using the talk box in his recordings, was also the band's producer, chief writer, arranger, and composer. He and older brother Larry, who served as percussionist in the band's early years and later retired from music to serve as his younger brother's manager, often collaborated on songs together. Roger and Zapp worked on both group albums and albums Roger released on his own merit. Within five years, the band scored more top ten R&B hits such as "Doo Wa Ditty", "I Can Make You Dance", "Heartbreaker", and ballads such as "Computer Love (R&B #8)" and a cover of The Miracles' "Ooo Baby Baby". Among the songs, only one of them - 1982's "Dance Floor, Part 1" - managed to hit number-one on the R&B chart while two of Roger's solo numbers - a cover of Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" and "I Want to Be Your Man" - hit the top spot of that chart. By 1985's New Zapp IV U, the group had scored five gold records and had become a top concert draw all around the world.
By the release of Roger's solo album, 1991's Bridging the Gap, success had mostly dwindled for the group though their records were now being sampled constantly by hip-hop acts. The first of which, EPMD's "You Gots to Chill" famously sampled "More Bounce..." In 1993, Zapp scored their biggest-selling album with the platinum All the Greatest Hits, which included a top forty R&B hit with "Mega Medley" mixing the band's greatest hits and a top twenty R&B hit "Slow and Easy" (R&B #18). By 1996, Roger Troutman had regained success after he added his trademark talk box for 2Pac's comeback hit, "California Love". Roger was also featured in the remix of Sounds of Blackness' 1998 hit, "Hold On (A Change Is Coming)", which sampled "Doo Wa Ditty".
The group became defunct after the April 25, 1999 deaths of Roger and Larry Troutman due to a murder-suicide. To this day, family members can give no clear motive as to why Larry fatally shot his brother, before killing himself, though the family speculates that the two brothers must have had a business dispute, and sources say that Larry had not slept in several days and was not in his normal state of mind at the time. It is also rumored by sources that Roger had informed Larry that he had selected a new manager, and Larry found this information hard to take after so many years successfully carrying out this role.
In the past two decades, the band's music had been very popular among lowrider enthusiasts and the Chicano/"Cholo" youth culture who appreciated Zapp's music. Their tracks are still being used today, without remix or any alterations and are commonly danced to by pop performers. "More Bounce To The Ounce" stands out as the most used sample in Chicano rap and West Coast rap, being sampled in countless songs. Their music is also popular amongst the widespread funk-style dance community.
The main list of members of Zapp are featured here including those who joined the band either as additional members or touring members:
- Roger Troutman: vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, harmonica, vibraphone, percussion, talk box
- Larry Troutman: percussion
- Lester Troutman: drums
- Terry Troutman: keyboards, bass, background vocals
- Greg Jackson: Keyboards, Lead and Background vocals, United States Trademark Owner of ZAPP!
- Bobby Glover
- Eddie Barber
- Jannetta Boyce
- Robert Jones
- Jerome Derrickson
- Sherman Fleetwood
- Gregory Jackson (Original and Current Member)
- Michael Warren
- Shirley Murdock
- Nicole Cottom
- Dale DeGroat
- Bart Thomas
- Ricardo Bray
- Bigg Robb (from the early/mid 1990s - 2009)
- Rhonda Stevens
- Ray Davis
- Roger Troutman Jr. (died of head injury in 2003)
- Thomas Troutman
- Rufus Troutman III
- Davis Brown (sound man)
- Wanda Rash (vocalist)
- Toika Troutman (vocalist)