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September 5, 1945
Artistfacts for Al Stewart
Alastair Ian Stewart was born in Glasgow, the only child of Joan Stewart, a Northamptonshire-born widow, and daughter of a professional trumpet player. Al's father was tragically killed when his plane exploded in March 1945; he was not quite 25 years old. Al's pregnant mother went first to live with her father-in-law at Greenock, and later moved to the South-West of England and sent her son to boarding school. Many of Al's earlier songs were inspired by his boyhood and youth.
After leaving school Al would move to London where he became a well known figure on the Folk circuit before eventually relocating to California.
During his teens, Al played in a group called The Sabres along with Tony Blackburn, who would go on to become a BBC DJ; later he traded his electric guitar for an acoustic one, and single-handedly invented historical Folk Rock.
His first album, Bedsitter Images, was rather strangely orchestrated; his second album Love Chronicles featured an epic song, the title track, about his life and loves to date, and was named Folk Album Of The Year by Melody Maker in January 1970. Over the next 30 and more years Al performed solo, with a full band and with other guitarists such as Laurence Juber, producing a steady stream of memorable songs with beautiful melodies and dazzling or simply hilarious lyrics on subject as diverse as Nazi war criminals, mystics, politicians, prostitutes and people who wear red toupees.
His devoted fan base believes he has never achieved the commercial success he deserves; by far his biggest hit was his 1976 single "Year Of The Cat
Stewart once played in a band with Tony Blackburn, who went on to make a name for himself as a broadcaster. "He actually complained I played too loud," Stewart told the BBC. "I was 17 and I was thrilled I was being paid 10 shillings a night to back Tony. And he wore a gold lamé jacket."