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Cat Stevens

Full Name Yusuf Islam (born Steven Demetre Georgiou)
Born July 21, 1948 in London, England
Genre Folk Rock, Soft Rock
Career Highlights Over 60 million albums sold worldwide, Iconic hits like "Wild World," "Father and Son," and "Peace Train," 2014 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee
Awards Inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (2014) and Songwriters Hall of Fame (2017)
Social Media Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube

Cat Stevens is a British singer-songwriter who became world famous for his meaningful folk-influenced songs in the 1960s and 70s. After a long hiatus from music, he returned to touring and recording in the 2000s. With introspective lyrics, expert guitar skills and a soulful tenor voice, Cat Stevens has captivated listeners for over five decades.

Early Life in London

Cat Stevens was born Steven Demetre Georgiou on July 21, 1948 in the Soho area of London. His parents were Greek Cypriot and Swedish. Stevens was raised in the city and taught himself to play guitar at age 15, drawn to the new wave of rock and roll. He took piano lessons starting at age 8 and received his first guitar as a gift from his father at 14. As a teen in the 1960s, Stevens began performing under the stage name Steve Adams and sought out a record contract.

Rise to Stardom

At 18, Stevens landed a record deal and changed his name to Cat Stevens, inspired by his girlfriend who said he had eyes like a cat. His debut single "I Love My Dog" charted on the UK Singles Chart in 1966. The song featured his signature fingerpicking guitar sound and poetic lyrics. His 1967 debut album Matthew and Son was a success, selling over 500,000 copies. Over the next several years, Stevens honed his folk-rock style and emerged as a major star with iconic songs like "Wild World," "Father and Son," and "Peace Train." His spiritually-influenced lyrics and proficient guitar skills made him a critical and commercial success.

Finding His Faith

In the mid-1970s, Stevens nearly died from tuberculosis. During his recovery, he went on a spiritual quest and began studying Islam. He soon converted and took on the name Yusuf Islam. He married, started a family, and left music entirely for a time to focus on his faith and establish an Islamic school in London. Though he was largely absent from the public eye in the 1980s, his music continued finding new listeners drawn to his compelling message.

Musical Comeback and Beyond

In the late 1990s, Stevens slowly returned to music, allowing his songs to be used in films like Rushmore and collaborating on projects with other artists. He made a full-fledged comeback in 2006 with the warmly received album An Other Cup, his first collection of new music in almost 30 years. He followed with Roadsinger in 2009 and Tell ‘Em I‘m Gone in 2014. He also undertook several world tours, playing his classic catalogue to enraptured audiences. Stevens proved he was still a consummate musician, delivering his iconic songs with the same passion and grace.

The Sounds and Lyrics of Cat Stevens

Musically, Cat Stevens is renowned for his excellent acoustic guitar skills, utilizing techniques like rhythmic strumming, melodic picking patterns, and unconventional tunings. As a vocalist, his flexible tenor range carries emotional weight and soaring high notes. Lyrically, Stevens crafts poetic songs about life‘s journey, hardships and spirituality. Songs like "Father and Son" contemplate the generation gap through moving storytelling. Similarly, "Wild World" offers guidance to someone setting out on their own. This empathetic quality helps give Stevens‘ music such widespread appeal.

Legacy of An Enduring Icon

With over five decades of music, Cat Stevens has cemented himself as one of popular music‘s most cherished icons. His heartfelt lyrical style influenced many other introspective singer-songwriters like James Taylor, John Denver and Ed Sheeran. His commitment to his faith and charitable causes has also been inspirational. Though the music world has changed drastically since his 1970s heyday, Cat Stevens‘ message of hope, understanding and peace continues resonating deeply with fans old and new.