On this day in music history: November 7, 1981 – “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” by Roger hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, also peaking at #79 on the Hot 100 on November 28, 1981. Written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, it is the first solo number hit for the front man of the R&B/Funk band Zapp. For his cover version of the Marvin Gaye classic, Roger takes inspiration from artists such as funk contemporaries Cameo, fusion jazz stalwarts Weather Report and from songwriter/producer Norman Whitfield when coming up with an original arrangement for the song. Roger plays most of the instruments on the track himself, except for the drums and which were handled by his brothers Lester and Terry “Zapp” Troutman. When his debut solo album “The Many Facets Of Roger” is released in the late Summer of 1981, is issued without a lead single. When Troutman and Warner Bros can’t decide between “So Ruff, So Tuff” (eventually released as the second single) and “Grapevine”, the latter wins out by default when DJ’s favor it over other tracks on the album. Clocking in at nearly eleven minutes on the album, it is edited split into two parts for single release in August of 1981. The success of “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” also drives “The Many Facets Of Roger” album to the top of the Billboard R&B album chart on the same date, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
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