The term 'Renaissance man' gets thrown around a little too easily these days. If you can sing and you can act, you’re proclaimed a Renaissance man (usually by writers who can do neither). Quincy Jones, though, comes close. One of music’s great arrangers and producers (already two distinct skills), he is also a composer, musician, media executive, and founder of a charitable organization. All of which is impressive, but doesn’t necessarily make him a Renaissance man. Think of Leonardo da Vinci, for example, constantly looking for new ideas, and new challenges. Da Vinci was an artist, a theoretician, an engineer, a writer, and more. Being a Renaissance Man doesn’t mean that you do a lot of things. We all do lots of things. Hell, I do lots of things, most of them perfectly legal. No, what makes a Renaissance man is curiosity – looking for those new ideas and new challenges outside your normal field of activity. Quincy Jones told Ebony magazine in this month’s issue that he’s now, at age 75, learning Mandarin and Arabic. Maybe studying classical music, working with some of the greatest legends in jazz history, and producing the greatest-selling album of all time – Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” – just makes him a versatile and gifted musician. But looking at media, at malaria eradication, at difficult languages that are increasingly important on the world stage, all of that makes Q, as he’s known, a good candidate for the term “Renaissance man.”
Henry Rollins, former lead singer of the hardcore punk band Black Flag and then the Rollins Band, is also a candidate. He’s been a published writer for over 20 years, a familiar actor, a stand-up comic, a radio and TV host, and now the host of a sort of travelogue/journalism series on the Independent Film Channel. Of course, that’s all media-related, but then there are all those tattoos and all those years of lifting weights. Not that those things make him a Renaissance Man, but they do scare the crap out of me, so “Renaissance man” it is.
Anyway, when someone is as versatile and as multi-talented as Quincy Jones, you begin to wonder what else he might be able to do. So here’s your chance – what would YOU like to see Q do next? Leave a comment and we’ll ask him.