Stevens, Cat (originally, Georgiern, Steven)

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Stevens, Cat (originally, Georgiern, Steven)

Stevens, Cat (originally, Georgiern, Steven ), popular British singer-songwriter of the first half of the 1970s; b. London, England, July 21, 1947. Cat Stevens utilizied a distinctive guitar sound backed by gentle rhythms for his engaging, mellow songs, such as “Wild World,” “Peace Train,” and “Oh Very Young.” Scoring his last major hit at the end of 1974, Cat Stevens abandoned music and converted to the Muslim religion in 1979.

Cat Stevens began writing songs and playing folk music in the mid-1960s while at Hammersmith Art Coll. Signed to Deram Records on the strength of a demonstration tape, he scored major British-only hits with “Matthew and Son,” “I’m Gonna Get Me a Gun,” and “A Bad Night” in 1967. Restricting his touring to England, Belgium, and France, he worked tirelessly and contracted tuberculosis, resulting in his hospitalization in September 1968 and a protracted period of convalescence. Emerging in spring 1970, Cat Stevens returned to the studio with guitarist Alun Davies to record Mona Bone Jakon, his first album for A&M Records. The album produced a British-only hit with “Lady D’Arbanville” and gained him his first recognition in the United States.

Cat Stevens’s next album, Tea for the Tillerman, included a number of exciting acoustic-guitar songs, such as “Where Do the Children Play,” “Hard-Headed Woman,” “Longer Boats,” and “On the Road to Find Out,” and yielded his first major American hit with “Wild World.” The intriguing follow-up, Teaser and the Firecat, produced a moderate hit with “Moon Shadow” and the top easy-listening and near-smash pop hits “Peace Train” and “Morning Has Broken.” Stevens later abandoned his guitar-dominated sound in favor of piano, and despite scoring only a single hit from his next three albums—Catch Bull at Four, Foreigner, and Buddha and the Chocolate Box—all sold quite well. His major hits through 1975 include the near-smash “Oh Very Young,” a smash-hit version of Sam Cooke’s “Another Saturday Night,” and “Ready.” Recording his final album in 1978, Cat Stevens converted to the Muslim religion in 1979, changing his name to Yusef Islam and establishing the relief organization Muslim Aid near London.


Matthew and Son (1967); New Masters (1968); Very Young and Early Songs (1971); Cat’s Cradle (1978); Mona Bone Jakon (1970); Tea for the Tillerman (1970); Teaser and the Firecat (1971); Catch Bull at Four (1972); Foreigner (1973); Buddah and the Chocolate Box (1974); Greatest Hits (1975); Numbers (1975); Izitso 077); Back to Earth (1978); Footsteps in the Dark: Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 (1984); C. S. (1987).


C. Charlesworth, C. S. (London, 1985).

—Brock Helander

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Stevens, Cat (originally, Georgiern, Steven)

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