Seventies pop star Cat Stevens was born Stephen Demetre Georgiou (1948-) on this day in London to a Swedish mother and a Greek Cypriot father. He took the name Cat because a woman said he had cat eyes.
Of Greek/Swedish origin, he hit the big time right out of art school in 1965 with Matthew and Son and I Love My Dog.
Sidelined with TB in 1968, the bearded, self-confessed loner turned inward and created rich, introspective songs for his immensely popular albums Tea for the Tillerman (1970) and Teaser And The Firecat (1971).
His lyrics explored life's challenges and yearned for something more. With spirit and passion, Stevens sang about love and peace and millions of fans responded. With soaring melodies and deep emotion, his records sold over 24 million copies in the 70s.
"Don't you feel a change a-coming, from another side of time," he wrote in Changes IV. "Breaking down the walls of silence, lifting shadows from your mind."
And just when he had it all, he gave it away. In December 1977, following a near-drowning in Malibu, he converted to the Islamic faith, took the name Yusuf Islam, and left the music industry. An advocate for Islamic education, he founded the Islamia Primary school in London in 1983 after the birth of his first child.
"You don't want to waste your time in life. If you've got time to spare, do something positive," he said.
Cat has recorded new music and his past hits live on. He called listening to his older tunes "fulfilling," and said in an interview, "I keep discovering amazing links in my past, with who I am today. If you missed that storyline, then you missed what my music was all about."
Let music take you where you need to go.