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Profile: Cat Stevens

By

Cat Stevens

Cat Stevens

source: pricegrabber.com

Born:

Steven Demetre Georgiou on July 24, 1948 in London, England

Genres:

Singer-songwriter, Folk, Soft rock, Adult contemporary

Instruments:

Vocals, guitar

Contributions to music:

  • One of the great singer-songwriters of the 70s
  • A gifted protest singer, peace activist and environmentalist
  • Brought a sense of spirituality and religious questing to the soft-rock genre
  • One of the rock world's more prominent philanthropists
  • The first major pop music figure to convert to Islam
  • Also a gifted visual artist and children's book author
  • One of the era's most-covered songwriters

Early years:

Born to Greek and Swedish immigrants, Steven Georgiou taught himself to play piano at a young age, while attending Catholic school and between shifts at his family's restaurant. At Hammersmith College, he began to play folk music around town, and was noticed by producer Mike Hurst, who cut a demo of his song "I Love My Dog" that got him signed by Decca. A hit in Britain, it led to several self-penned followups, including the smash "Matthew and Son." He was also immediately in demand as a songwriter, with his early compositions "The First Cut Is The Deepest" and "There Goes My Baby" becoming hits for other artists.

Success:

However, this would prove to be only the first stage of Cat's career. Coming down with a near-fatal bout of tuberculosis in March 1968, for which he was bedridden nearly a year, caused Stevens to do some soul-searching about his pop star life, and when he was released, he began working on simpler, folkier music not aimed at the pop charts. Ironically, after a false start with the overproduced album Mona Bone Jakon, he struck commercial and critical gold with the 1971 landmark Tea For The Tillerman and its three hit singles. This was the beginning of a hit streak that would last for the next five years.

Later years:

Stevens was again becoming frustrated with the downside of his newfound popularity, however, and converted to Islam after his brother returned from a trip to Jerusalem with a copy of the Qur'an. Changing his name again to Yusuf Islam, he left the business entirely for decades, making news only when he commented on issues like the jihad against author Salman Rushdie (which he seemed to support) and the 9/11 attacks (which he denounced). In 2006 he returned to secular music with the album An Other Cup; 2009 saw his comeback fully arrive with the hit album Roadsinger, released merely as Yusuf.

Other facts:

  • Chose the name Cat Stevens from his first name and the fact that a girlfriend said he had catlike eyes
  • Wrote "Sweet Scarlet" for then-girlfriend Carly Simon, who then wrote the hit "Anticipation" for him
  • Was scheduled to perform a new song at the 1985 Live Aid concert, but was cut when Elton John ran long
  • Refused to let "Father And Son" be performed in the 2001 movie Moulin Rouge because of the film's sexual content
  • Refuses to collect royalties from the Cat songs he considers "immoral," instead giving them to charity
  • Denied entry into the US after 9/11 when his name mistakenly showed up on a list of terrorist suspects

Awards/Honors:

  • ASCAP awards (2005, 2006)
  • Honorary doctorates from Universities of Gloucestershire (2005) and Exeter (2007)
  • World Social Award (2003)
  • Man For Peace Award (2004)
  • Mediterranean Prize For Peace (2007)

Recorded work:

#1 hits:

Adult Contemporary:

"Peace Train" (1971)
"Morning Has Broken" (1972)

Top 10 hits:

Pop:

"Peace Train" (1971)
"Morning Has Broken" (1972)
"Oh Very Young" (1974)
"Another Saturday Night" (1974}

Adult Contemporary:

"Oh Very Young" (1974)

#1 albums:

Pop:

Catch Bull At Four (1972)

Top 10 albums:

Pop:

Tea For The Tillerman (1971)
Teaser And The Firecat (1971)
Foreigner (1973)
Buddha And The Chocolate Box (1974)
Greatest Hits (1975)
Izitso (1977)

Other important songs: "Matthew And Son," "The First Cut Is The Deepest," "Where Do The Children Play?" "Hard Headed Woman," "Wild World," "Sitting," "The Hurt," "Can't Keep It In," "Foreigner Suite," "Ready," "Two Fine People," "Banapple Gas," "(Remember The Days Of The) Old Schoolyard," "Was Dog A Doughnut," "Bad Brakes," "I Love My Dog," "I'm Gonna Get Me A Gun," "Lady D'Arbanville," "Father And Son," "Sad Lisa," "Trouble," "I Wish, I Wish," "Bitterblue," "(I Never Wanted) To Be A Star," "Don't Be Shy," "If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out," "The Wind," "Silent Sunlight," "Angelsea," "18th Avenue (Kansas City Nightmare)," "King Of Trees," "Drywood," "Last Love Song," "Indian Ocean"
Wrote or co-wrote: "The First Cut Is The Deepest," Rod Stewart, Sheryl Crow; "Here Comes My Baby," The Tremeloes
Covered by: Rod Stewart, Sheryl Crow, Maxi Priest, Jimmy Cliff, Mr. Big, The Tremeloes, Pearl Jam, Travis, 10,000 Maniacs, Boyzone, Francis Dunnery, Papa Dee, Little Angels, Dawn Penn, David Essex, Me First And The Gimme Gimmes, Beth Orton, Bad Manners, P.P. Arnold, Yo La Tengo, The Mavericks, The Jags, Death By Chocolate, Elton John, Dalida, And Also The Trees, Roger Whittaker, Rick Wakeman, Dolly Parton, Daniel O'Donnell, Angels Of Venice, Kristin Hersh, Bruce Robison, Big Mountain, The Ventures, SNFU

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