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Cat Stevens

Steven Demetri Georgiou, the London-born son of a Swedish mother and a Greek father, launched his career in folk-pop in the late '60s under the name Cat Stevens. He released several albums and wrote songs that were hits for other artists (Rod Stewart, for example, had a major smash years later with Stevens' early composition "The First Cut Is the Deepest"). However, real success on both sides of the Atlantic didn't come till 1970's Tea for the Tillerman, which followed his near-death from tuberculosis and metamorphosis into an introspective songwriter. Numerous gold and platinum albums followed through most of the '70s; in 1977, however, Stevens became a Muslim and took the name Yusuf Islam. By 1979 he had retired from show business, and went on to live a quiet religious life in London with his wife and five children, founding one of Britain's top Islamic schools. In the late '80s he attracted some notoriety by voicing support for the Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa against Satanic Verses author Salman Rushdie. In 1995 he released a double CD that consisted of Muslim chanting and a spoken-word biography of Mohammed; virtually ignored in the West, the album was a huge hit in the Islamic world.

Written by: Mary Eisenhart

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