1971 Cat Stevens – Wild World
Steven Demetre Georgiou was born in London in the late forties and attended a Catholic primary school. He played around with his family piano, but after the Beatles became popular, he talked his father into buying him a guitar. He began work on an art degree, but changed his mind and began performing music using the stage name Steve Adams.
A girlfriend told him he had eyes like a cat, so he began using the name Cat Stevens for solo performances in pubs and clubs in the UK.
He signed a publishing deal and began creating demos for songs he wrote himself, including The First Cut Is The Deepest. While he did not have a hit with the song himself, Rod Stewart turned it into a #1 single in the UK and Sheryl Crow later reached the top twenty with her single on the US Hot 100.
Cat reached #2 in the UK with his second single, Matthew And Son. The song bubbled under the Hot 100 in the US, but peaked at #115. The record must have done better in the New York area since I remember hearing the record on the radio in 1967.
In the late sixties, Cat survived a bout with Tuberculosis. He spent months in hospitals and nearly a year recovering. He concentrated on yoga and meditation, became a vegetarian, and began studying other religions. His musical career stalled for a few years during that period. While he was recuperating, he wrote dozens of songs he later recorded.
Cat began dating Patti D’Arbanville, an American actress and model. He recorded his first new album in three years in 1970. The first single from the album was the song Lady D’Arbanville, which was written about Patti. The single reached the top ten in the UK without getting anywhere near the US charts.
Six months later he completed another album, Tea For The Tillerman, which earned gold records in both the UK and the US and became his breakthrough album. The songs marked a return to his early folk roots, with lyrics focused on everyday life. His breakup with Patti resulted in the song Wild World. That single reached #11 on the Hot 100, even though it did not chart in the UK.
Cat dated Carly Simon for about seven months in 1971 to 1972. Carly was inspired to write the song Anticipation about their relationship.
His first single from his next album was Moonshadow, which only reached #30 on the Hot 100. That poor showing was offset by reaching the top ten on the Adult Contemporary chart in the US and #22 in the UK. He followed that up with the top ten single Peace Train. He has used much of the money he has made from royalties from that and other songs to fund schools and promote child welfare.
After a near-drowning off the coast of California in 1976, Cat began a more serious search for religion. He converted to Islam and adopted the name Yusef Islam. His new religion led him into trouble in 1989 when he publicly called for the death of Salman Rushdie multiple times because many of his new faith considered Salman’s writings to be blasphemous. Cat later walked-back his calls for violence against the writer and either denied making the statements or claimed that his comments were misunderstood or taken out of context.
When Cat attempted to visit the US in 2004, he was sent back to London because his name allegedly appeared on the No Fly List. Cat insisted that the US officials had him confused with somebody with a similar name. He easily gained entry into the US in 2006, lending credence to Cat’s claims that he was denied entry to the US as a result of mistaken identity. In 2009 Cat wrote and recorded the song Boots And Sand about the incident and also created a video for the song. He had some help with the single: Paul McCartney and Dolly Parton contributed backup vocals to his recording.
Cat was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 2014. He continues to record music and sing in public and has scheduled the release of a new album, Tea for the Tillerman 2, on the 50th anniversary of his prior Tillerman album in September 2020.
My books are on sale on Amazon (or free with Kindle Unlimited) and contain a lot more Lost or Forgotten Oldies. You can visit my author page to see them and you can read them for free with Kindle Unlimited!