The musical odyssey of Cat Stevens is well documented, from teenage London art school songsmith (“The First Cut Is The Deepest,” the Tremeloes’ “Here Comes My Baby”) to introspective cornerstone of the 1970s singer-songwriter movement. Who can measure the courage it took him in the late ’70s, after seven years of multi-platinum success in the U.S. (and over a decade in the UK) to convert to Islam, amidst the wave of turmoil and confusion that was engulfing the world? He left his touring and recording life behind and named himself Yusuf Islam. Inevitably, many long-time fans abandoned him, he found certain international borders closed and worse yet, controversies laid at his doorstep despite his humanist background. It was 17 difficult years between his final LP as Cat Stevens (1978’s Back To Earth), and the first CD as Yusuf, and more than a decade until his first pop album in nearly 30 years (An Other Cup in 2006). “When I accepted Islam,” he told Rolling Stone, “a lot of people couldn’t understand. To my fans it seemed that my entering Islam was the direct cause of me leaving the music business, so many people were upset. However, I had found the spiritual home I’d been seeking for most of my life. And if you listen to my music and lyrics, like ‘Peace Train’ and ‘On The Road To Find Out,’ it clearly shows my yearning for direction and the spiritual path I was travelling.” The musical gifts that he has shared with the world are an important chapter in rock history - a beacon of hope that will never be extinguished.
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