Matt 'Patch' Karrakas was born in Chicago, Illinois US in 1949 to a Russian mother who had escaped the Stalinist purges of the 30's, and a cuban exile father who was a leading light in the jazz movement of the late 20's.
He suffered at school from the then unrecognized condition of dyslexia, in later interviews revealing how he was subjected to taunts and bullying by fellow pupils.
He retreated into music as a way of coping starting on piano, then upright bass guitar which was to become his instrument for life, although he has been known to play piano, guitar and occasionally banjo ( learnt from a next door neighbour) on stage. He had no siblings, it seems his mother was not taken with motherhood. Perhaps this is why he has never married and has no children.
The family moved to Euclid, Ohio in 1964 when Matt was 15, they had lived there only nine months when tragedy struck in the form of the Palm sunday tornado outbreak that devastated the region resulting in 271 deaths that included his parents who were crushed under the weight of the collapsing roof of their modest home. Matt survived by chance sheltering in a doorway but sustained an injury to his right eye. After basic attempts were made to save his sight, Matt was forced to accept that he would never see out of the eye again and under direction of the doctors of the time, wore an eye patch which he has since adopted. It has become synonymous with him and his appearance hence the nick name 'patch' When he and his band 'the Jazz brigade' tour no show is complete without his opening line; 'you're on my patch now...'