story and photo by Ariana Crisafulli
Roby and wife Carolyn on the beach in San Clemente Raised on the beaches of southern California, it is no wonder that Roby LaPorte has grown up to personify the quintessential California surfer dude. Though surfing is a great passion of Roby’s, his true love lies in his music. In fact, he bought his very first guitar at the tender age of eight and since then, has never put it down.
While in high school, Roby discovered his talent as a lyricist and writer when a very influential English teacher assigned his class an essay about their walk to school that morning. His teacher was quick to notice his original style and went out of her way to encourage Roby to further his writing talents.
In his early 20s, Roby founded his first rock n’ roll band, J. Thaddeus Toad, named after the fun-loving character from Wind in the Willows. Due to the band’s name, Roby acquired the nickname “Toad”, and for 30 years has been plagued with all kinds of toad-inspired gifts which cover his entire house!
With a career in music, Roby soon became interested in Recording and Sound Engineering to produce his own songs. With the goal of advancing his sound engineering skills, he attended the University of Sound Arts in Hollywood in 1983 and emerged at the top of his class. While producing his own music, professionals in the industry took notice of his work and asked him to record and produce other musicians and bands as well. During this time, Roby is proud to say that he has worked with some of the biggest names in the industry not only as a recording engineer, but also as a live sound engineer and session player.
The late ‘80s brought the magic of computers to Roby, opening all sorts of new possibilities for his music. He began using software programs to aid him in his song writing, eventually becoming interested in web-development when the Internet blossomed. This was his first introduction to computers and little did he know they would come to play such an important role in his future.
Roby spent most of the 1990s doing the ‘Front of House’ sound engineering at the Coach House Concert Hall in San Juan Capistrano. He is very pleased to have had the privilege of working with many of his idols during this time; Justin Hayward, Eric Burden, BB King, Wille Nelson, and many more.
In 1998 Roby met and fell in love with his wife, Carolyn, and her seven –year-old daughter, Ariana. Carolyn and Roby soon realized their mutual interest and potential in web-development and teamed up to start their own business known as WowiZowi Productions. At about this same time he formed another band called Gratitude and continues to perform and record his own music to this day.
Roby is often quoted saying “You know that fork in the road where you’re supposed to turn off to become an adult? Well, I missed the turn!” Anyone who knows Roby at all could never hear a truer statement. Through his lifetime he has always maintained his fun, boyish nature and continues to view the world with a childlike interest in life and all its possibilities. b