Cat Stevens Biography

(Singer and Multi-Instrumentalist Known for His Albums ‘Tea for the Tillerman’ and ‘Teaser and the Firecat’)

Birthday: July 21, 1948 (Cancer)

Born In: London, England, United Kingdom

Cat Stevens is a British singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and humanitarian. In his childhood, he was inspired by the musicians performing at the Denmark Street, which was the center of British music industry. Listeners of the 1970s remember him as the soft and romantic singer whose singles always tore through the charts and were ‘Top Ten’ mainstays. His success and recognition can be adjudged by the fact that several of his albums achieved gold-record status and he was inducted into the ‘Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.’ At the peak of his career, he had a life-altering experience and accepted Islam as his religion. Stevens stopped writing and singing music for a couple of decades and devoted his life to educational and philanthropic causes for the Muslim community. He received two honorary doctorates for the work he did in promoting peace. He returned to music in the 1990s after properly understanding the message about music in Islamic culture. He now believes that it is vital to preach to the world the finer aspects related to Islam. In 1979, he married Fauzia Mubarak Ali who bore him five children. The family currently lives in London.

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Quick Facts

British Celebrities Born In July

Also Known As: Yusuf Islam, Steven Demetre Georgiou

Age: 74 Years, 74 Year Old Males

Family:

Spouse/Ex-: Fawzia Ali

father: Stavros Georgiou

mother: Ingrid Wickman

siblings: Anita Georgiou, David Georgiou

children: Abd al-Ahad Islam, Aminah Yusuf, Asmaa Islam, Hasanah Yusuf, Maymanah Islam, Yoriyos

Born Country: England

Musicians Folk Singers

Height: 5'10" (178 cm), 5'10" Males

City: London, England

Founder/Co-Founder: Islamia Primary School, Brondesbury College

More Facts

awards: 2004 - Man of Peace
Steiger Award
2007 - Echo Award for Lifetime Achievement Award International
2003 - World Social Award

Childhood & Early Life

Cat Stevens was born Steven Demetre Georgiou on July 21, 1948, in London, England. His parents Stavros Georgiou and Ingrid Wickman were restaurateurs. Steven had two elder siblings, Anita and David.

His parents divorced when he was eight, but continued to live above their restaurant ‘Moulin Rouge.’ The children often helped by working in the restaurant after returning from ‘St Joseph Roman Catholic Primary School’ where they studied.

His first musical instrument was a baby grand piano owned by the family. Thrilled by ‘The Beatles,’ he bought a £8 guitar at the age of 15 and began playing and writing songs.

He and his mother went to Gavle, Sweden for a brief period of time. In Gavle, he attended a primary school and developed his drawing skills. After attending several other local West End schools, he took a one-year course at ‘Hammersmith School of Art’ to become a cartoonist.

This impulse was quickly overtaken by the will to become a musician and he started performing at a local bar named ‘Black Horse’ under the stage name 'Steve Adams' in 1965.

He signed his first publishing deal as a songwriter in 1965 with ‘Ardmore and Beechwood’ and adopted the stage name Cat Stevens.

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Career

In 1966, Mike Hurst was impressed with Cat Stevens’ talent and got him a record deal. His singles 'Matthew and Son' and 'I'm Gonna Get Me a Gun' charted at No. 2 and No. 6 respectively. The album 'Matthew and Son' reached No. 7 on the ‘UK Albums Chart.’

In the next two years, he released several singles that occupied the British Pop Music charts. He then toured England and Europe with Jimi Hendrix and Engelbert Humperdinck. Pirate station ‘Wonderful Radio London’ is credited for increasing his popularity.

After gaining recognition, he wanted to release some seasoned tracks, but his producer refused as he viewed Stevens as more of a teen pop star. This shocked Stevens and he went into depression and became an alcoholic.

In 1969, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and spent a year in convalescence. This period gave him the time to reflect on his life and spirituality. He also started practicing yoga and meditation. On the musical front, he penned over 40 songs.

His new agent Barry Krost got him an audition with Chris Blackwell of ‘Island Records.’ On Blackwell's assurance that he could make any type of music with any artist, Stevens signed the deal in 1970 and Paul Samwell-Smith became his producer.

His next album 'Mona Bone Jakon' (1970) was a folk rock based album and featured guitarist Alun Davies. It sold over 500,000 copies and was awarded a gold status in 1971. The album was released in the US by ‘A&M Records.’

He released the album 'Teaser and the Firecat' in 1971 and it peaked at No. 2 on music charts. The album was a huge hit and achieved gold record status in just three weeks of its release.

His album 'Izitso' came out in 1977 and featured an extensive usage of synthesizers. The techno-pop tracks, which were developed by music sequencers, proved to be a precursor to the 1980s’ electric music genre.

He took a long break from his musical career following his conversion to Islam in 1977.

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He resumed his music career in the 1990s with songs on Islamic themes. He launched his own recording studio named 'Mountain of Light' and a record label named 'Jamal Records.'

He performed at ‘Nelson Mandela's 46664’ concert in 2003; his first English performance after a 25-year hiatus. He then re-recorded 'Peace Train' along with David Bowie and Paul McCartney.

In 2005, he released a song titled 'Indian Ocean' after working alongside A R Rahman, Magne Furuholmen, and Neil Primrose. The song was about the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami disaster. The proceeds were used to help those affected by the tsunami.

He went on to release three albums ‘An Other Cup’ (2006), ‘Roadsinger’ (2009), and ‘Tell 'Em I'm Gone’ (2014) under the name Yusuf Islam, which he adopted after converting to Islam.

Yusuf released his song ‘My People’ in March 2011 and went on a European tour after 36 years.

He released his 15th studio album ‘The Laughing Apple’ in September 2017. The album is credited to ‘Yusuf/Cat Stevens,’ his first record since ‘Back to Earth’ under the name Cat Stevens. It is also his first album to earn a ‘Grammy Award’ nomination.

Major Works

His album 'Catch Bull at Four' spent three weeks at No. 1 on the ‘Billboard 200’ and 15 weeks at the top of ‘Australian ARIA Charts.’

His album ‘The Laughing Apple’ earned him his first ‘Grammy Award’ nomination. It was nominated under the ‘Best Folk Album’ category.

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Awards & Achievements

He was honored with the ‘World Award’ in 2003 and the ‘Man of Peace Award’ of the ‘World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates’ in 2004.


Stevens was awarded an honorary doctorate by the ‘University of Gloucestershire’ in 2005 and by the ‘University of Exeter’ in 2007.

He won the ‘ASCAP Songwriter of the Year Award’ in 2005 and 2006. He received the ECHO "Special Award for Life Achievements as a Musician and Ambassador Between Cultures" in 2007.

He was inducted into the ‘Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’ in 2014. He was also inducted into the ‘Songwriters Hall of Fame’ in 2019.

Personal Life & Legacy

In 1976, he almost drowned. When he was washed ashore, he took this as a sign of divine intervention and started reading the Quran, which was given to him by his brother. He converted to Islam in 1977 and adopted the name Yusuf Islam in 1978.

Stevens was engaged to Louise Wightman for a short period of time. He married Fauzia Mubarak Ali on September 7, 1979, in London. The couple has five children.

When asked about his view on the ‘fatwa’ calling for the death of Salman Rushdie in 1989, he just recounted the legal Islamic punishment. His comments were misinterpreted by the media as a supporter of the ‘fatwa.’

Trivia

Cat Stevens has done a lot of philanthropic work till now. He founded the ‘Islamia Primary School’ in 1983. In 1992, he founded ‘The Association of Muslim Schools,’ a charity that brought together all Muslim schools in the UK. He was the chairman of the ‘Muslim Aid’ charity organization from 1985 to 1993.

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See the events in life of Cat Stevens in Chronological Order

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