OBITUARY's RALPH SANTOLLA Pays Tribute To Fallen JON OLIVA'S PAIN Guitarist MATT LAPORTE

OBITUARY/DEICIDE guitarist Ralph Santolla has released the following statement to BLABBERMOUTH.NET regarding the passing of JON OLIVA'S PAIN/ex-CIRCLE II CIRCLE guitarist Matt LaPorte (pictured below):

"OBITUARY is on tour, and we've had limited Internet access.

"When [OBITUARY/ex-SIX FEET UNDER bassist] Terry Butler told me he got a message about Matt passing away, I hoped and prayed there was some mistake, but obviously I was wrong.

"Matt LaPorte was one of the kindest, gentlest, most humble and cool people anyone could ever hope to meet.

"About six weeks ago, when I was on tour with DEICIDE, Matt called me, and he said, 'Ralphy, I just wanna tell you I love you, and don't ever forget it.' I'm so grateful he did that, because this would hurt even worse if he hadn't given me that gift.

"A few months ago I did a guitar clinic for him at Seminole Music. He introduced me by saying, 'I think this guy is the world's greatest electric guitarist.' After it was over, I said, 'Dude, are you out of your MIND??' and Matt said, 'I can think whatever I want.'

"What a guy... He also spent many, many hours sequencing backing tracks from my solo album for me to play over, because I'm too stupid to do it myself.

"An amazing person.

"One of my dreams since I was 16 or so was always to do something with Jon Oliva. He's one of my musical heroes, and fucking Matt LaPorte made my dream come true by having me play on a JON OLIVA'S PAIN album.

"The world has lost a beautiful person, and I hope I see him on the other side.

"God bless you, Matt!!!!"

LaPorte will be laid to rest this Saturday, April 30 at the Moss Feaster Funeral home in Largo, Florida.

Anyone wishing to send flowers should send them directly to the funeral home in care of Matthew LaPorte so that floral companies locally will be able to inform the service personal upon delivery.

For more information, go to this location.

Matthew LaPorte passed away in his home shortly after 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 20. No information regarding his cause of death is currently available. He was 40 years old.

The surviving members of JON OLIVA'S PAIN previously stated about LaPorte, "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 JON OLIVA'S PAIN 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 JON OLIVA'S PAIN CDs 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 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."

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