Born Steven Demetre Georgiou, the British singer/songwriter's greatest success came in the post-Beatle early 70s with a career path comparable to Elton John and James Taylor.
Cat Stevens' "Tea for the Tillerman" (1970) and "Teaser and the Firecat" (1971) were both certified triple platinum. "Catch Bull at Four" (1972) spent three weeks in the number one album slot. His music was the centerpiece for the dark humored classic "Harold and Maude" (1971), and singles like "Peace Train," "Moonshadow" and "Wild World" were cornerstones for Top 40 radio.
Then the changes came. Stevens converted to Islam in 1977, adopted the name Yusuf Islam in '78 and auctioned off his guitars for charity in 1979. After leaving music behind, his new focus became philanthropy and education.
His return to pop music began in 2006 with "An Other Cup," his first album in almost three decades. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year and is embarking on U.S. and European tours for the first time since 1978.
The reemergence, along with the new album "Tell 'Em I'm Gone," is the subject of a fascinating audio documentary you can hear this Sunday on OpenAir. Yusuf Cat Stevens talks about his mystery, his musical roots and his new direction in an intimate hour of music and conversation.
Tune in for Yusuf / Cat Stevens, "Tell 'Em I'm Gone" Sunday, Nov. 16 at 6 p.m. on OpenAir, streaming in stereo at openaircpr.org.
And in the meantime enjoy this Yusuf / Cat Stevens playlist:
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