Martin Luther “ML” Procise III, 1953-2015 NEW YORK, NY—Legendary live sound pro Martin Luther “ML” Procise III died in his sleep on March 4 in Dallas at the age of 62. A mainstay of the touring sound industry for over 40 years and 4,500 shows, 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 Clair Global and Showco.
ML was recognized by his peers with numerous awards. He was also known to be proud of his involvement in Don and Carolyn Davis’s yearly Sound Reinforcement workshops, and in his membership in the Audio Engineering Society.
“Every industry has its legends, and ML was truly one of our own,” said Troy Clair, president and CEO of Clair Global. “He will certainly be missed by the numerous sound engineers, techs, production and artist managers who were privileged to have known and worked with him, be it on the road or in the studio. On a personal level, our relationship evolved over the years from competitors to colleagues to friends. On behalf of all of us at Clair Global, our thoughts are with ML’s family.”
An engaging man with a relentlessly positive attitude, Procise broke into the touring sound business with a bang, as he recalled a few years ago during an interview for Pro Sound News. “Sound reinforcement 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, TX 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 Eighties 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 could 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 the same level of energy and enthusiasm into his work as senior director of Touring at Showco and later as executive director of Touring for Clair Global when it purchased Showco in late 2000. “Every day, I can’t wait to 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’ve got to 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 at Showco or with my Clair 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 ML himself as one of those “good people”—he will be sorely missed.
ML was preceded in death by his wife of 33 years, Debby, and is survived by children Raleigh, Luke, Parker and Evan. The memorial service for ML Procise, III and Debby Procise was streamed live by Bent Tree Bible Fellowship.