In Memoriam: John Vitale, 63

by George Petersen
in News
In Memoriam: John Vitale 1954 - 2018
In Memoriam: John Vitale 1954 - 2018

MIDDLETON, WI - Pro audio and music industry veteran John Vitale passed away suddenly and unexpectedly in the morning of Feb. 12, 2018. He was 63. A lifelong Midwesterner, Vitale also had a lifelong passion for music, whether he was learning and performing it himself or teaching and optimizing the sound for others. His career in MI and pro audio, for companies including Bag End and Full Compass Systems, spanned three decades.

Vitale was born in Chicago on Nov. 18, 1954. After seven years of studying classical piano with his father, celebrated classical pianist Vito Vitale, he began self-teaching himself guitar and in 1968, at age 13 — while attending Chicago’s Foreman High School — started performing in nightclubs with bands and orchestras around the Chicagoland area, becoming fluent in rock, blues, pop, R&B, jazz, country and other styles. After seeing Andres Segovia in 1971, he became absorbed by the Spanish classical guitar.

Vitale was accepted into Roosevelt University (also in the windy city) where he majored in music and earned a Bachelor of Arts/Music degree in classical guitar performance, although jazz was still one of his loves (and he was known to rock out on occasion as well). After graduating in 1978, he moved to the Madison, WI area and worked for nine years as a professional guitarist, instructor and bandleader/vocalist.

Perhaps it was the irresistible lure of a steady paycheck, but in 1990 he dove head first into the pro audio/M.I world, beginning in sales for Bag End / Modular Sound Systems, eventually working his way up as national sales manager and sales director. Here, his friendly disposition and extensive industry contacts helped moved the company ahead and built its list of top artist users during Vitale’s nine-year tenure there.

His next step was a 12-year stint (1999 to 2011) as national sales manager for Full Compass Systems, a nationwide reseller of pro audio, video, A/V, lighting and musical instrument products based in Madison, WI.

Eventually, Vitale returned to his musical roots and first love, focusing on teaching and live music performance, while also working as a successful account representative with national clients for West Corporation in the Madison, WI area. 

John Vitale was predeceased by Susan, his wife of many years, who passed away a few months ago, and is survived by his adult children Nick, Amanda and Dan. But he also leaves behind a huge number of loving friends and associates who were forever touched by the huge heart of this amazing person. Rest well, old friend.

No memorial announcements had been made at press time.