Dayton funk pioneers honored with historical marker

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.

Troutman, an R&B recording artist, pioneered the famed funky “Dayton sound,” and produced gold and platinum recordings with his brothers.

The Ohio Historical Markers program began in 1957 and is administered by the Ohio History Connection. Since the program began, more than 1,750 markers have been placed. This year the organization placed 34 markers.

Unveiling celebrations have been canceled or postponed due to the pandemic.

The historical marker program “allows local communities to identify, honor and commemorate the important people, places and events that have contributed to their past and formed part of the fabric of Ohio,” said Burt Logan, executive director and CEO of the Ohio History Connection, in a virtual unveiling.

A school assignment for two Bowling Green State University students, Jacqueline Hudson and Kari Boroff, led to the marker. The pair applied to the historical marker program to acknowledge the family’s musical contributions to Dayton.

A quote from Roger Troutman is the first line of historical information on the marker at the intersection of Salem Avenue and Catalpa Drive in the Dayton View Triangle neighborhood.

“…this is the area that supported, which made us…”

As a 13-year-old, Troutman was a budding musician who set up gigs at sock hops and community functions. He became a multi-instrumentalist singer and arranger for Zapp and was known for his versatility using a vocoder “talk box” to create computerized vocals.

He is credited with helping put “Dayton Funk” on the map with hits that include “I Want to Be Your Man” and “Computer Love.” In 1996, he collaborated with Dr. Dre on Tupac Shakur’s Grammy-nominated song “California Love.”

At age 47, Troutman was fatally shot by his brother Larry Troutman during a 1999 murder-suicide.

The studio was razed in 2004. A decade later a sound sculpture honoring the funk music legend was placed on the site. The new historical marker has been placed next to the sculpture.

The shocking incident stunned music lovers around the world. Troutman and his family, originally from Hamilton, had formed the Zapp band in 1978.

Brothers Lester and Terry Troutman continue to perform with Zapp band.

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