8 legendary acts that make Dayton the ‘Land of Funk’



On Jan. 31, 1976, “Love Rollercoaster” by the Ohio Players hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. It was a milestone for Dayton funk in a history that runs deep.

In the 1970s and 1980s, southwestern Ohio — particularly Dayton’s west side — was known for its stable of funk bands whose influence can be heard in hip-hop, house and other musical forms popular today.

Here are just eight acts that made Dayton one of the funkiest places on Earth.

Ohio Players

Formed in1959 as the Ohio Untouchables, their career has produced 14 Top 20 hits, with six No. 1 songs, two No. 1 pop albums. They also scored 14 gold and platinum records with three consecutive platinum albums. Their influence can be heard in hip-hop, house and other musical forms popular today through sampling, covers and remixes. The Ohio Players have seen their songs sampled or remade by Snoop Dogg, Puff Daddy, Russ, Jay-Z, Salt-N-Pepa, Soundgarden, Action Bronson, A Tribe Called Quest, Mary J. Blige and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Key jams: “Fire,” “Love Rollercoaster,” “I Wanna be Free,” “Pain,” “Funky Worm,” “Skin Tight,” “Honey” and “Sweet Sticky Thing.”

Zapp (Zapp Band or Zapp & Roger)

Formed in1977, Zapp was among the bands that helped Dayton earn Dayton’s Land of Funk nickname in the 1970s and ‘80s.

Key jams: “More Bounce to the Ounce,” “Doo Wa Ditty,” “I Can Make You Dance,” “Heartbreaker” and “Computer Love.”

Roger Troutman

Credit: Contributed photo

Credit: Contributed photo

As a 13-year-old, Roger 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.

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

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.

Key jams: “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” “I Want to Be Your Man,” “California Love (2Pac featuring Troutman and Dr. Dre)”


Formed in 1975, Slave was active from 1975 to 1996. The group’s self-titled debut was released in 1977 and featured the number R&B hit, “Slide.” Other Top 10 R&B hits included “Just a Touch of Love” and “Watching You.”

Key jams: “Watching You,” “Slide,” “Just a Touch of Love” and “Snap Shot”


Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Lakeside was formed in 1969. Mark Wood, Lakeside lead vocalist, grew up around the corner from original vocalist and songwriter William Shelby and his older brother, and founding Lakeside member, Thomas Shelby. According to Woods, Shelby’s childhood nickname was “Noddy” because he was always “nodding because he always had a song in his head.” Lakeside is best known for its 1980 R&B hit “Fantastic Voyage.”

Key jams: “Fantastic Voyage,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Your Love Is on the One” and “It’s All the Way Live”


Credit: submitted

Credit: submitted

Formed in the late 1970s, Faze-O’s biggest hit, “Riding High,” produced by Clarence Satchell of the Ohio Players, continues to be sampled by hip-hop artists.

Key jams: “Riding High,” “Toe Jam” and “Good Thang”


Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Heatwave was formed: 1975. Keyboardist Rod Temperton wrote the band’s two biggest hits Boogie Nights and the ballad Always and Forever.” The band’s lineup included Dayton brothers Keith Wilder and Johnnie Wilder Jr., the band’s lead singer.

Temperton went on to write songs for many artists, including some of Michael Jackson’s biggest hits including “Thriller,” “Off the Wall,” and “Rock with You.”

Key jams: “Boogie Nights,” “Always and Forever” and “The Groove Line”


Sun formed in the mid-1970s and recorded music from 1976 to 1984. The band was founded by Byron Byrd in Dayton in 1976. Additional members included Kym Yancey, Chris Jones, Gary King, John Wagner, Hollis Melson, and Shawn Sandridge. Sun’s first hit “Wanna Make Love” peaked at #31 on Billboard’s R&B chart.

Key jams: “Wanna Make Love,” “Live On, Dream On” and “I Had a Choice”

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