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Cat Stevens profile of a musician

Updated on March 7, 2015

Steven Demtre Georgiou was born on 21 July 1948, London, Great Britain, his father and mother both owned a restaurant close to London‘s theatre district. As a youngster Stevens developed an interest in music and art, when he was fifteen he persuaded his father to buy him a guitar. It was evident to his family and friends that Stevens creativity was starting to shine, as he started to compose and sing the songs that he wrote.

When he enrolled at Hammersmith College he met Mike Hurst a music producer who immediately spotted the talented individual. Hurst referred Stevens to the producers at Decca records, so impressed with the young prodigy they signed him up to a new music label they created called Deram. The first thing they did was to Persuade Stevens to change his name to ‘Cat Stevens’. November 1966 Stevens composed his first Album Mathew and Son which included I Love My Dog reaching number twenty-eight on the British charts. Now at the age of just nineteen he was now established on the music scene, repeatedly producing top ten hits. I’m Gonna Get Me A Gun reached number six on the British charts. Turning to songwriting, he started writing songs for Tremeloes Here Comes My Baby which proved successful with listeners and climbed to number four on the charts. Stevens was by now emerging amongst his fellow musicians as a superb songwriter. The producers at Deram were keen to push their young prospect by appealing to the teenage music market. Stevens tried in vain to change his own style appeal to a wider audience; the change of direction was immediately rebuked by Deram. With the growing pressures, long working hours and all night partying soon took its toll on Stevens. It wasn’t long before he was becoming depressed, and instead he turned to alcohol to try to escape his problems. In 1968, Stevens’ health was rapidly declining when he first developed a cold which eventually lead to tuberculosis his lung had also collapsed. After receiving treatment in hospital, he decided to take three months off to reflect on his life. Recovering from tuberculosis he returned to work, Stevens set about working on his next album Tillerman. The Album proved a huge hit in America after it release in 1970, which resulted in him winning gold platinum.

In 1977, Stevens was swimming in the sea at Malibu beach when the water current changed, Stevens was starting to drown as the current pulled him under. Lucky a wave managed to sweep Stevens out of the current and he swam back to shore. Always a deeply thoughtful individual, Stevens felt that divine intervention had saved him from drowning. He first became interested in Islam when his brother gave him a copy of the Koran for his birthday. Deciding to make an orthodox conversion to Islam Stevens, changed his name to Yusuf Islam, as well as establishing a Muslim school in London. In 1979, he met Faw Ali whom he had an arranged marriage with. Stevens stop recording mainstream music and for the next twenty years he lived a quite existence. Deciding to return to music scene in the mid-1990’s after a long period Stevens started by composing spiritual music, as well as recording lectures.

However after September 11 2001, Stevens was put onto a no-fly list and barred from entering America, even though he spoke out against the terrorist attacks. In 2005, he won songwriter of the year and was awarded song of the year by the American society for the song The First Cut Is The Deepest. 2007 Stevens was award the Medd Peace Prize and the in the same year he was given an honorary degree from Exeter University for increasing the understanding between western and middle east cultures.


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