Yusuf Islam (born Steven Demetre Georgiou; 21 July 1948), commonly known by his stage name Cat Stevens, and later Yusuf, is a British singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist of Greek-Cypriot and Swedish descent. His 1967 debut album reached the top 10 in the UK, and its title song "Matthew and Son" reached number 2 on the UK Singles Chart. Stevens' albums Tea for the Tillerman (1970) and Teaser and the Firecat (1971) were certified triple platinum in the US by the RIAA. His musical style consists of folk, pop, rock, and, in his later career, Islamic music.
In December 1977, Stevens converted to Islam and adopted the name Yusuf Islam the following year. In 1979, he auctioned all of his guitars for charity and left his musical career to devote himself to educational and philanthropic causes in the Muslim community. He was embroiled in a long-running controversy regarding comments he made in 1989 about the death fatwa on author Salman Rushdie. He has received two honorary doctorates and awards for promoting peace from two organisations founded by Mikhail Gorbachev.
In 2006, he returned to pop music – releasing his first new studio album of new pop songs in 28 years, titled An Other Cup. With that release and subsequent ones, he dropped the surname "Islam" from the album cover art – using the stage name Yusuf as a mononym. In 2009, he released the album Roadsinger, and in 2014, he released the album Tell 'Em I'm Gone, and began his first US tour since 1978. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014. His second North American tour since his resurgence, featuring 12 shows in intimate venues, ran from 12 September to 7 October 2016. In 2017, he released the album The Laughing Apple.
Links to Peel
Peel isn't known to have played anything by Cat Stevens on the Perfumed Garden, although the singer's early material on Deram Records was frequently played on Radio London in 1966 and 1967, and featured in the station's charts as well as the national Top 30. But the DJ, or his producer Bernie Andrews, was initially keen enough on Cat Stevens' work to book him for a session for Top Gear in December 1967. JP also included Cat Stevens ("Writes very fine songs, I think...") among the artists listed and commented on in his ABC Of Beauty, in the 2 November 1968 edition of Disc & Music Echo.
Cat Stevens faded from view for a time due to illness but made a successful comeback at the beginning of the 1970s, with hit singles and LPs for Island Records. He abandoned the pop orientation of his previous work in favour of a folk-rock approach which appealed to the audinnce who listened to the BBC's Sounds Of The Seventies and brought him international fame. He was considered one of the "bedsit troubadour" singer-songwriters of that ers, but never seeemd to be a particular favourite of Peel, receiving more airplay from DJs such as Bob Harris. However, by the mid 70's, Stevens' hits were beginning to dry up and his gift for writing catchy melodies seemed to have deserted him. Peel appeared to have lost interest in the singer and, reviewing his latest single, "Two Fine People" on the Singles Reviews column in Sounds, published on 12th July 1975, the DJ was critical of Stevens' recent work (even if he conceded that the single was, "as are all Cat Stevens' records, marvellously produced "):
"Why, I wonder, does Cat Stevens command such a large and adoring following? His records certainly sell, yet seem to have little to offer the listener. I defy anyone to sing me one of Cat's more recent songs - they tend to wordiness and lumbering "tunes" which easily evade the memory."
By the end of the 70's Cat Stevens had stopped producing new music, and his material never got any airplay on Peel's shows. It was only in 2006 that the singer released a new album, but in the meantime some of his work had been covered by other artists, including "Peace Train", recorded by 10,000 Maniacs, and "The First Cut Is The Deepest", a hit for Rod Stewart a decade after P.P. Arnold's version had made the UK charts is 1967. Stevens' own 1967 UK chart hit "Matthew and Son" became the theme tune of DJ Brian Matthew. .
1. Recorded: 1967-12-08. Broadcast: 17 December 1967
- I Love Them All / Kitty / Sun's In The Sky / I'm Gonna Be King / Blackness Of The Night
Other Shows Played
- 19 November 1967: Kitty (LP - New Masters) Deram
- 21 November 1970: Longer Boats (LP - Tea For The Tillerman) Island