His birth name is Steven Demetre Georgiou. He became a Muslim and changed name to Yusuf Islam in 1977 after his brother gave him a copy of the Koran. The name comes from the prophet Joseph, who was interpreter of dreams.
He is a talented painter. He painted the images used on his albums Teaser And The Firecat, Tea For The Tillerman and Mona Bone Jakon.
Stevens was born in London. He was popular in England years before catching on in America.
Some radio stations boycotted his records in 1989 after he supported the call for Salman Rushdie's execution for defaming the prophet in the book The Satanic Verses. He said he was simply following The Koran.
He has five children.
in 1968, he got Tuberculosis. After a long recovery, he started writing less commercial and more introspective songs. Cat Stevens recalled to Mojo:
"I was smoking a lot. Dope as well but mostly cigarettes. So then along came this disease and I was stuck with it. It was a kind of godsend in a way for me. That period was my blossoming into who I wanted to be."
He would have had better UK chart position for many of his hits, but Island Records did not promote his singles much in England to encourage people to buy his albums.
In 1979, he auctioned off his guitars and gave the money to charity in an effort to show his devotion to Islam.
He negotiated the freedom of 4 English prisoners from Iraq after the Gulf War in 1990.
He organizes and supports Muslim schools in England.
In 2001, he released a boxed set containing 79 tracks, most of which he recorded before becoming a Muslim. He donated the proceeds to charity in light of the terrorist attacks on America.
His parents were Stavros, who was Greek, and Ingrid, who was Swedish. When he converted to the Islamic religion, he was going against his family's faith, which ticked them off.
Annabelle - Eugene, OR
Yusuf Islam explained to Uncut magazine regarding his Cat Stevens stage name: "My girlfriend at that time, Christine, said to me one day 'You look so much like a cat.' That kind of stuck. At the same time there were films around like What's New Pussycat? and Cat Ballou."
"So, yeah, it just stuck and then I just kept my first name, Steven and tagged Cat on to it."