Cat Stevens was born Steven Georgiou, the son of a Greek restaurateur, in London on 21 July 1947. He originally achieved fame as a clean-cut teen idol with his debut single I Love My Dog which hit the British charts in October 1966.
Between 1966 and 1968 he enjoyed a string of hits including Matthew and Son, I’m Gonna Get Me A Gun and A Bad Night, yet towards the end of this period, his health began to fail him due to overwork and physical neglect.
In a state of collapse, and suffering from TB, he spent three months in a sanatorium where he had sufficient time to re-evaluate his work – the direction of which had been worrying him.
When he returned he was determined that he wanted an alternative to the commercial pressures of the big business side of the music industry and during 1969 and 1970 he lived on profits he had made earlier and devoted himself to writing songs of considerable personal significance.
There emerged a string of hugely successful albums, admired both in America and England. Tea For The Tillerman (1970), Teaser and The Firecat and Catch Bull At Four, and several hit singles – Lady D’Arbanville, Moon Shadow, Morning Has Broken and Can’t Keep It In – ensured him a place of admiration in the highest echelons of popular music.
By this time he was once again subjecting his lifestyle to close scrutiny. Stevens became a Muslim convert in 1977 and married a girl to whom he had never even spoken, but had only seen at a London mosque.
Renaming himself Yusuf Islam he retreated into a reclusive life, shunning the media and the world of show business as much as possible. He spent his days examining personal and religious issues and gave up writing songs.
In 2006, he returned to pop music, with his first album of new songs in 28 years.