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A New Historic Marker Honors Dayton Funk

Troutman Sound Labs Historic Marker
City of Dayton / Facebook
One of Ohio's new historical markers sits in a small park on Salem Avenue, where the city celebrates its funk legends.

There’s a new Ohio Historic marker on Salem Avenue in Dayton—at the spot where a lot of funk music came to life inside Troutman Sound Labs.

Troutman Sound Labs was built in the early 80s, when a string of hit songs by Roger Troutman and Zapp made Dayton the epicenter of the funk scene.

David Webb at The Funk Center notes that Roger Troutman played a big role in both the foundation of funk and the heyday of hip-hop.

“You got ‘More Bounce to the Ounce,’ ‘Computer Love,’ ‘As We Lay.’ And they did a lot for the hip hop community. When Roger left and went to California and worked with Tupac on ‘California Love,’ it just set the hip hop industry upside down," Webb says.

In addition to Troutman’s hits and his work with Tupac and Dr. Dre, the historic marker notes that his music "has been sampled nearly 900 times and shaped the sound of West Coast Hip-Hop.”

Music was the family business for Troutman. He and his brothers— Lester, Larry and Terry “Zapp” Troutman—played together in the Zapp band.

Funk Marker with Officials
Funk legends and city officials were on hand for the unveiling of the Troutman Sound Labs historical marker.

But Troutman’s story abruptly switched from American Dream to Greek tragedy in 1999, when he was shot by his brother Larry in the alley behind his studio on Salem Avenue. He died a few hours later at Good Samaritan Hospital.

Larry Troutman fled the scene of the shooting, crashed his car, and committed suicide just a few blocks away, on Harvard Boulevard.

The Dayton Daily News says an estimated 3,000 people attended the Troutman brothers funeral, including members of Parliament Funkadelic, The Ohio Players, The Gap Band and Zapp.

Troutman Sound Labs was torn down in 2004, but there’s a giant metal sculpture in its place now. The sculpture was made by local artist Michael Bashaw, and it’s titled “I Can Make You Dance,” after a Troutman song.

The surviving Troutman brothers, Lester and Terry, have kept Zapp going.

And Roger Troutman's legacy lives on—on stereos all over the world.

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