TROUTMAN BROTHERS SHOT DEAD - Recording artist believed victim in murder-suicide

Credit: Contributed photo

Credit: Contributed photo

EDITOR’S NOTE: Khalid Moss covered a variety of topics for the Dayton Daily News. He was the co-author on this story that was originally published on Page A1 of the Dayton Daily News on April 26, 1999.

R&B recording artist Roger Troutman and his older brother Larry, part of one of Dayton’s most famous musical families and pioneers of the famous rock-funk “Dayton sound” of the 1970s, died Sunday morning in an apparent murder-suicide.

Roger Troutman, 47, died at Good Samaritan Hospital and Health Center. Dayton police said he had been shot several times in an alley behind the music studios that his family owned.

Larry Troutman, 54, was pronounced dead after police found him in his car on Harvard Boulevard with an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.

“Roger, he was unique,” said Ohio Players drummer and leader Diamond Williams, a musical contemporary of Troutman’s who went to the shooting site when he heard the news. “Very, very talented. The world has lost a truly talented entertainer by another senseless act.”

The two were part of the Troutman family, which formed the 1970s band Zapp. The band’s self-titled debut album hit the pop top 20 in 1980 and scored a major hit with the song More Bounce to the Ounce. Roger Troutman eventually went solo, recording under the name “Roger.” He hit No. 1 in 1987 with the single I Want to Be Your Man.

In recent years, Troutman had jump-started his career, finding new audiences with the song California Love, a Grammy-nominated collaboration with hip-hop superstars Tupac Shakur and Dr. Dre. Troutman released a greatest-hits album in 1996 and apparently planned to tour this summer.

On Sunday, Dayton police were called at about 7:20 a.m. to the alley between Catalpa Drive and Ravenwood Avenue behind Roger Tee Enterprises Inc., 2016 Salem Ave. Officers found Roger Troutman, who appeared to have been shot several times, Sgt. Gary White said. Witnesses told police the gunman had left in a black car.

Minutes later, dispatchers got a call about a car hitting a tree on the 2100 block of Harvard Boulevard, White said. Officers found Larry Troutman in the driver’s seat of a black Lincoln. He appeared to have shot himself in the head.

“We don’t know what this is about,” White said. Witnesses weren’t able to say anything about the dispute. Detectives planned to interview family members on whether there were problems in the family or the business.

One onlooker at the scene on Harvard was Williams. He wept as he remembered the Troutmans, who he said he had known for more than two decades. Williams said he was trying to contact Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner, guitarist for the Ohio Players. Bonner taught Roger Troutman how to play guitar, he said. “He’ll be upset,” Williams said.

A former singer with the band, Larry Troutman had served as president of Troutman Enterprises Inc., whose interests included contracting, real-estate management and the three recording studios and a rehearsal space in the buildings near where Roger was shot. Those properties are listed in phone directories under the name Roger Tee Enterprises Inc.

Word of the shootings spread quickly Sunday through the neighborhoods along Salem Avenue. Midway through services at Omega Baptist Church, 1821 Emerson St., the Rev. Daryl Ward somberly announced them. At the taped-off crime scene near Harvard and Benson Drive, a steady stream of onlookers gathered as officers took photos and prepared to have the late-model Lincoln towed away.

Deputy City Manager William Gillispie, who lives nearby, said the Troutmans were known in the area and had seemed close. “Larry was the businessman and Roger was the musical talent,” Gillispie said. “They would walk down the street and one brother would have his arm over the other brother’s shoulder. They made a good team.”

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