SEMINOLE - It was three years ago today on April 20th, 2011 when Matthew David LaPorte passed away at the the young age of 40 while at his home in Seminole. In doing so, Matt joined an unfortunate list of talented Tampa Bay musicians who have been taken away, way too early in their lives.
Born in Clearwater on September 11th, 1970, Matt has played with more musicians, and had been in more bands then one could imagine. The reason for this is simple...Matt was a naturally gifted and talented guitarist and musician, and the epitome of what a true musician is. Nearly everyone who has ever worked in the Tampa Bay music scene within the past 20 years knew Matt to some degree or another. Outside of having been the guitarist for Jon Oliva’s Pain (featuring Jon Oliva of Savatge) at the time of his death, Matt had played in many popular local and national bands including Circle II Circle, Big Brother, KingPin, Stormbringer, Drama (w/ John Zahner), Suckerpunch, The Enablers, The last Things, Big Deal!, Iron Horse (Featuring Ron Keel), and several others as well.
Matt has performed on all of the Jon Oliva's Pain albums from 2004's "Tage Mahal", to 2010's "Festival". Aside from JOP, Matt has also appeared on many other albums with several other bands as well. Matt’s discography includes:
- 1998 "Change Of Venue" (solo album).
- 2003 "Watching In Silence" (Circle II Circle).
- 2004 "'Tage Mahal" (Jon Oliva's Pain).
- 2005 "The Middle Of Nowhere" (Circle II Circle).
- 2006 "Once More... With Feeling" (solo album).
- 2006 "Straight Jacket Memoirs" EP (Jon Oliva's Pain).
- 2006 "Maniacal Renderings" (Jon Oliva's Pain).
- 2007 "Spiritual Apocalypse" (Monstrosity).
- 2008 "Global Warning" (Jon Oliva's Pain).
- 2008 "Matt Laporte" (solo album).
- 2010 "Festival" (Jon Oliva's Pain) cd/dvd.
Matt was without a doubt an extremely talented guitarist and musician...But to those who knew him personally, Matt was more then just another talented musician...he was a true friend and loved one!
"Matt was a brilliant guitar player on all levels. He understood that instrument better than almost anyone. His knowledge of music in general was just amazing. His contributions to JOP and every band he ever played with was also without measure. He was truly a one-guitar army when he needed to be and his solo performances on all the JOP cd's will forever send chills down our spines. A near 20- year history and friendship with one of the true greats has now ended and we are deeply saddened. Matt was a fan of all kinds of music and instruments, having even embarked on a mission to conquer the hammered dulcimer...one of the hardest instruments to play. He was always trying to expand his musical horizons and influences. He marveled at the musical greats, both old and new. He was never one to rate his talents above others and often commented about the great new music and artists he had just discovered. Criss Oliva was without a doubt his most profound influence, and anyone who saw him play Savatage songs knew that Criss was channeling his talents via Matt. Matt's attention to detail and always striving to play everything perfect is without comparison. We would sit for hours during rehearsals with him muddling over whether a guitar chord was played exactly as recorded. Sometimes frustrating, but always appreciated in the end. He was the professionals' professional when it came to his guitar skills, and the loss of such a talent will be forever felt. Matt was a gentle soul, and would avoid conflict at all costs. He got along with everyone and greeted all with a smile on his face. There was a shyness and almost embarrassment felt by him from the adoration of his fans around the world...and he had many. He was humbled by the love and respect music fans gave to him, but in a quiet way, that made him work just a little bit harder. His had a hilarious, twisted and often sarcastic sense of humor that was unique to him. A very funny man indeed. We miss you terribly Matt, and we will celebrate your music and life each and every day. That great band in the sky just got a whole lot better, and you are in the most peaceful place you could have ever hoped for. Until we meet again...” - Jon Oliva of Savatage and Jon Oliva's Pain.
"I will always remember with great appreciation the privilege I had sharing the stage with Matt LaPorte....." - Tommy Roxx of Big Deal!.
“I will cherish the 20+ years of friendship and memories we had.....Our hearts are broken!” - Rebecca Field of Undercover Betty.
“Not many remember when Matt was playing with Krunch. He never did any shows with us but was part of finishing up several recordings that we were lacking a second lead part. At that time he was in the band "Drama". His guitar wizardry enabled him to lay down some incredible lead parts for our music. RIP Matt!!! You will be missed! This is as big a shocker as when Chris Oliva died. Sad day!” - Pete Gratta of Black Jack Bomber.
“Criss [Oliva] and Matt are pluging in and tuning up right now...” - Fan.
“You will be so missed Matt. I love you! Rock on in heaven sweetie. Wish I could have had one more bear hug.” - Friend.
Following his passing, There was a memorial service for Matt LaPorte on April 30th, 2011 at the Moss Feaster Funeral Home in Largo. Hundreds of friends, fans, colleagues and family turned out for what was a beautiful memorial service. The huge turnout proved just how much both Matt and his music had touched so many lives.
On July 23rd, 2011, Ferg’s Sports Bar & Grill in St. Petersburg hosted a memorial concert for Matt. “A Memorial Concert - Celebrating the Life and Music of Matt LaPorte” featured appearances and performances by Jerry Outlaw & Friends, the Florida Metal All Stars, the HubbTones, Jon Oliva, and members of Crimson Glory (including Todd LaTorre), Jon Oliva's Pain, Savatage, Trans Siberian Orchestra and other select musicians from Matt’s circle of friends. At the event, artists performed Matt’s original music that he wrote himself, as well as music that personally inspired him.
Matt will forever be missed, RIP Matt!
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