Live sound pro M.L. Procise III died in his sleep on March 4 at the age of 62. A mainstay of the touring sound industry for 40 years, Procise became an in-demand FOH engineer for the biggest acts in the world in the 1970s and '80s, before segueing into life as an executive for Showco and Clair Global.
An engaging man with a relentlessly positive attitude, Procise broke into the touring sound business with a bang, as he told me a few years ago during an interview for Pro Sound News. “Soundreinforcement was a hobby of mine, as it was for most people who got into it when I did. I was in my hometown of Fort Wayne, IN, in late 1975 and a friend of mine who was mixing Genesis called me up and said, 'Hey, they're gonna hire a monitor guy right off the street to do monitors—do you want the gig?' Well, Genesis was my favorite band! I was literally in a town barhopping one day, and a week later, in a rehearsal room in Dallas, Texas, doing their monitors. How lucky can you get? It's no exaggeration that they were, by far, my favorite band—I loved all the progressive rock music in the early Seventies. That's not like winning the lottery, but for me, it was.”
Quickly, Procise built his reputation mixing English, Irish and Scottish rock bands, but looking back, he felt “the thing that really launched my career was mixing the Bee Gees' Saturday Night Fever tour with Jack Maxon, one of the owners and founders of Showco. That got me a gig mixing Michael Jackson and the Jacksons for the next six or seven years. Everything just was good for me.”
In addition to mixing the Jacksons’ landmark Victory tour in 1984,the '80s found him mixing arena rock acts like Boston and Guns N’ Roses, as well as kicking off a 13-year stint with ZZ Top that ended in the mid-Nineties as his focus switched over to sales and managing at Showco. “I got in the sales part in the late Eighties with Showco, but kept my mixing career,” he said. “At that point though, I had four kids starting to get towards high school and I had to find an avenue to get off the road. I continued to have mixing projects, but it was more as something to keep me in the loop so I can relate to the other engineers.” Filling in on one-offs and tour overlaps during that time found Procise mixing the likes of Green Day, Limp Bizkit, Rage Against The Machine, The Wallflowers, Alice In Chains, Puddle of Mudd and others.
While his time behind the mixing desk lessened, Procise poured thesame level of energy and enthusiasm into his work as Senior Director of Touring at Showco and later Clair. “Every day, I can't waitto get into work,” he enthused. “I love what I do and I love who I work with. I have a flock of guys I work with who are the most talented live sound engineers in the business. They're loyal to me and I'm fiercely loyal to them—same goes for the production managers and the tour managers as well—because I know we're always going to deliver the goods.”
That mix of drive, attitude and professionalism helped Procise prosper throughout his career in a difficult business that had changed drastically since he entered it decades earlier: “I gotta tell you, I spent my whole career being nice to people. Even when they kicked me when I was down, I'd get right back up and try to do them a favor. That's the vibe I've always had: Try to help other people out the best I can. I am very lucky—I've prospered from surrounding myself with prodigious people, exemplary people, whether it's at Showco or with my Clair Brothers comrades. I try to help everybody as much as possible, and I think that has helped me advance myself, by having good people around me.”
There are many around the industry who would count M.L. himself as one of those “good people”—he will be sorely missed.
In addition, Mix senior editor Blair Jackson interviewed Procise for a story in Mix magazine's May 2010 issue, "State of Live Sound":
“Of course equipment is important,” Procise says, “but it’s still a people business in the end, and it’s the responsibility of the sound company to bridge the technology gap on field service. I like to think our guys are the best in the world. We go to the finest vocational schools and musical engineering programs to recruit the best people with the highest aptitude and best grades—people who want to do what we do for a living. Because this is our life. Maybe you can’t be on the softball team or in a bowling league or have a family right away. This is hard work that requires a lot of commitment. This isn’t just repairing a bad module in an analog console anymore. There’s a ton of different things to do. And in this day and age you have to have people who can do it all.”