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Published: Thursday, 12/28/2000

They'll play that funky music

BY RHONDA B. SEWELL
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The term “old school” conjures memories of double belts and Bootsy Collins glasses, dances called the Earl Flynn and the Spank, and the R&B and funk music bands Zapp and Parliament/Funkadelic.

These groups, who had No. 1 hits in the late 1970s and early '80s, including “One Nation Under a Groove” and “More Bounce to the Ounce,” are still together in new formats.

They're scheduled to perform at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Lucas County Recreation Center, 2901 Key St., Maumee. The event will be cabaret-style; concert-goers are encouraged to bring their own food and refreshments.

“These groups are still going strong after all these years,” said local concert promoter Curtis Hopkins, who has known members of both bands since their early days. “The music has meaning from that era, and people feel good when they listen to these groups.”

Zapp was formed in the mid-1970s in Dayton by siblings Roger, Larry, Lester, and Terry Troutman. They enjoyed a string of R&B hits in the 1980s, including “Dance Floor (Part I),” and “I Can Make You Dance.”

“We had many band names, but the one we had before we came up with Zapp was Roger and the Human Body,” Lester Troutman, 44, Zapp drummer and original member, said from his home in Dayton.

Lester's late brother, Roger, once the band's vocalist and guitarist, used a vocoder, a device that makes the human voice sound electronic, to create their trademark sound.

In 1999, the group, and the Troutman family, tragically made national headlines when brothers Roger and Larry were shot to death outside a Dayton studio in an apparent murder-suicide.

Roger had enjoyed a solo career in the late '80s and '90s, and had a Top 10 hit in 1987 with “I Wanna Be Your Man.” He is best remembered by young hip-hop and rap fans for a 1995

video, “California Love,” that he made with Dr. Dre and the late rapper Tupac Shakur.

Zapp loves to play the tunes for which the band is best remembered, said Lester Troutman, but the band plans to create new music in the future.

Today, Zapp tours with eight members, including Troutman brother Terry, who was given the nickname Zapp during his early childhood.

Drummer Lester Troutman credits his late brother Roger with inspiring his family's love of music and for creating the Zapp sound.

“I love to hear people talk about our music and what it did for them, and the good times they had listening to it,” he said.

“It was because my brother Roger never had any violence, or cursing, or blatant sex, or talk of anybody killing anybody in his music, it was nothing but a good time and good feelings when you listened to Zapp.”

Vocalists Fuzzy Haskins, Grady Thomas, Calvin Simon, and Ray Davis, who hail from the funk groups Parliament and Funkadelic, are also going strong and touring as the Original P Parliament Funkadelic.

Funk is an earthy form of music created in various forms by African-American groups and solo artists such as James Brown, Sly Stone, Miles Davis, Earth Wind & Fire, Jimi Hendrix, George Clinton, and Curtis Mayfield.

The foursome, who now tour with more than 10 other musicians, are original members of the group the Parliments, which was formed in the mid-1950s with George Clinton. They released a series of doo-wop singles for such labels as ABC and New, and made several unreleased singles for Motown.

“I can remember one of their first shows in Toledo was back at the Bancroft Hall on Ashland Avenue in the '70s. That's when I first met them. They wore suits back then and all had processed hair,” recalled promoter Hopkins.

In the late '60s, the group changed its name to Parliament and scored a Top 20 hit in 1967 with the single “I Wanna Testify” followed by “All Your Goodies Are Gone” on the Revilot Records label. Two years later, the group Funkadelic was formed and had a string of notable albums, including “Uncle Jam Wants You,” “The Electric Spanking of War Babies,” and the funk anthem, “One Nation Under A Groove.”

The '70s and '80s were Parliament's era, with such albums as “Mothership Connection.” The group included various combinations of bands, including Parliament, Funkadelic, the P-Funk All-Stars, and the Brides of Funkenstein, and featured musicians like Maceo Parker and Bootsy Collins.

In recent years, original members Haskins, Thomas, Simon, and Davis reunited to form the Original P. In 1997 they were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The group plans to release its new single and mini CD,“What's Dat Shak'N (Behind Ya Like Dat)” on the Westbound Records label.

“One of the reasons the groups continue to be so popular is because when you hear their music, you're gonna move something,” said Mr. Hopkins.



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