The Tragedy Of Cat Stevens
via Grunge / YouTube
Cat Stevens, known for his timeless music and thought-provoking lyrics, has led a fascinating and controversial life. From his conversion to Islam to tragic incidents and wrongful accusations, his journey has been filled with ups and downs. His story is one of transformation, faith, adversity, and resilience. Despite the controversies and challenges, his music continues to resonate with audiences around the world, reflecting the depth of his personal experiences.
Forever an Outsider: Born Steven Demetre Georgiou to a Greek Cypriot father and Swedish mother, Cat Stevens grew up with a unique background, experiencing different faiths such as Greek Orthodox, Baptist, and Roman Catholic. He often felt isolated due to this unusual upbringing.
Musical Direction Conflict: Despite producer Mike Hurst’s desire for a more polished pop sound, Stevens yearned for a genuine folk feel in his music. This conflict led to disappointment with his second album, “New Masters,” released in 1967.
Struggles with Substance Abuse: Thrust into the spotlight at a young age, Stevens succumbed to the destructive habits of smoking, drug use, and excessive drinking. The pressures of fame and the desire to live a larger-than-life existence influenced his behavior.
Battle with Tuberculosis: At the age of 20, Stevens faced a life-threatening situation when he was diagnosed with advanced tuberculosis. His unhealthy lifestyle and stress from a court dispute with his record company contributed to his deteriorating health.
Lost Love: After recovering from tuberculosis, Cat Stevens formed a deep connection with American model and actress Patti D’Arbanville. Their two-year romance was filled with tender moments, but distance and D’Arbanville’s eventual involvement with Mick Jagger led to heartbreak. Stevens immortalized their love and loss in the haunting ballad “Lady D’Arbanville,” reflecting his pain and acceptance of their separation.
A Devotion to Islam: In 1977, Cat Stevens shocked the world by converting to Islam and adopting the name Yusuf Islam. The following year, he made another surprising decision—abruptly quitting music to embrace a more normal way of life aligned with his faith.
A Near-Drowning Experience: In 1976, while alone on a beach in Malibu, Stevens found himself caught in a frightening riptide that dragged him out to sea. This experience, coupled with his elder brother gifting him a copy of the Qur’an, had a lasting impact on him.
Wrongful Terrorist Assumptions: Rumors circulated that Cat Stevens had provided funds to Hamas, an Islamic terrorist group, during a visit to Israel in 1988. As a result, Israel refused him entry in subsequent years. Stevens denied the allegations, stating that his charitable contributions aimed to help victims of war and natural disasters, particularly children and orphans.
The Blacklisting Controversy: In 1988, following the release of Salman Rushdie’s controversial novel, “The Satanic Verses,” Cat Stevens was accused of supporting the subsequent death fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini. This accusation led to bans on his music, destruction of his records, and hate directed towards him.
Self-Imposed Exile: Struggling with his identity and feeling disconnected from his true self amidst fame and celebrity, Cat Stevens voluntarily isolated himself at the age of 25. He chose to give his taxes to children’s charities and relocated to Brazil, seeking a simpler and quieter life.