The dictionary defines Renaissance Man as "a person who has wide interests and is expert in several areas," but it might be easier to just show a picture of Hoyt Axton. For four decades the multi-talented performer was a genre-crossing composer and singer as well as a busy TV and movie actor, and he did it all very, very well.
Axton grew up in Oklahoma with music very much a part of his life — his mother co-wrote "Heartbreak Hotel," and young Hoyt studied classical piano and guitar. But as he approached adulthood he actually leaned more toward athletics, attending college with the help of a football scholarship. Unfortunately that didn't work out too well, and after some time in the Navy the young man again took up music, relocating to San Francisco and immersing himself in the folk-music world of the early 1960s.
Hoyt worked hard and began making a few appearances as a singer, but his first solid success came as a songwriter. His own early performances of "Greenback Dollar" didn't really get a lot of attention, but when he sold the song to the well-established Kingston Trio, it became a top-ten hit for the group and kick-started his career too.
He was able to record his first album as a singer and also found another outlet for his talent — as an actor. He had a natural warmth and charisma, and his Oklahoma twang made him a natural for Westerns. He began making guest appearances on Bonanza and other TV shows, followed by spots in movies. It was the beginning of a successful parallel career, one that found him eventually playing all kinds of roles and co-starring in many movies, but it was his music that was still the core of his performing life.