Cat Stevens

Cat Stevens (born July 21, 1948) is an English singer/songwriter who was primarily active as a recording artist between 1966 and 1978. Scoring a deal with Decca just shy of age 18, he burst onto Swinging London with the chipper “I Love My Dog” in late 1966. The following year saw back-to-back albums of mostly exuberant, harpsichord/string-laden folk pop.

After a brush with death, a mellowed and bearded Stevens emerged with 1969’s “Where Are You” single, which previewed the serious, adult-oriented stance of 1970’s Mona Bone Jakon and Tea for the Tillerman albums. Hitting transatlantic paydirt with the latter’s angular, acoustic “Wild World,” he enjoyed his most successful run with the 1971/72 albums Teaser and the Firecat and Catch Bull at Four and the singles “Morning Has Broken,” “Moonshadow,” “Peace Train,” and “Sitting.”

In 1975, another near-death experience sparked a period of further self-reevaluation. As his musical career faltered, Stevens converted to Islam and retired to a life of orthodoxy.

In 1989, the rechristened Yusaf Islam drew fire when he purportedly backed the Ayatollah Komeini’s fatwa against Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses, a book construed as critical of the Islamic faith. In 2000, Yusuf denied these accusations on an episode of VH-1’s Behind the Music.

Twenty-eight years after retiring the name Cat Stevens, Yusuf returned to music in 2006 and has since recorded four albums in his orthodox iteration.


Early Life

Cat Stevens was born Steven Demetre Georgiou on July 21, 1948, in London’s Marylebone district. He was the youngest of three children born to a Greek father and Swedish mother. The family lived above a restaurant that they owned and operated on Shaftesbury Avenue.

Georgiou taught himself piano as a child and took up guitar at age 15. After enrolling for a year at the Hammersmith School of Art to study cartooning, he decided to pursue music. His early influences included The Beatles, The Kinks, Biff Rose, Leo Kottke, Paul Simon, Lead Belly, and Muddy Waters. Knowing that his name would be difficult for people to pronounce, he adopted the stagename Cat Stevens, in part because his then-girlfriend said he had cat eyes.

In 1966, Stevens was discovered by (ex-Springfields) musician/producer Mike Hurst, who helped the 18-year-old secure a deal with Decca. Steven’s debut single, “I Love My Dog” (b/w “Portobello Road”), appeared that September on Decca-subsidiary Deram.


Matthew and Son 

Cat Stevens released his debut album, Matthew and Son, on March 10, 1967, on Deram.


New Masters

Cat Stevens released his second album, New Masters, in December 1967 on Deram.


Mona Bone Jakon

Cat Stevens released his third album, Mona Bone Jakon, on April 24, 1970, on Island.


Tea for the Tillerman

Cat Stevens released his fourth album, Tea for the Tillerman, on November 23, 1970, on Island.


Teaser and the Firecat

Cat Stevens released his fifth album, Teaser and the Firecat, on October 1, 1971, on Island.


Catch Bull at Four

Cat Stevens released his sixth album, Catch Bull at Four, on September 27, 1972, on Island.


Foreigner

Cat Stevens released his seventh album, Foreigner, in July 1973 on Island.


Buddha and the Chocolate Box

Cat Stevens released his eighth album, Buddha and the Chocolate Box, on March 19, 1974, on Island.


Numbers 

Cat Stevens released his ninth album, Numbers, on November 30, 1975, on Island.


Izitso 

Cat Stevens released his tenth album, Izitso, in April 1977 on Island.


Back to Earth 

Cat Stevens released his eleventh album, Back to Earth, in December 1978 on Island.


Discography:

  • Matthew and Son (1967)
  • New Masters (1967)
  • Mona Bone Jakon (1970)
  • Tea for the Tillerman (1970)
  • Teaser and the Firecat (1971)
  • Catch Bull at Four (1972)
  • Foreigner (1973)
  • Buddha and the Chocolate Box (1974)
  • Numbers (1975)
  • Izitso (1977)
  • Back to Earth (1978)

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