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In the late '70s, the chart-topping singer/songwriter Cat Stevens formally became a Muslim, adopted the name Yusuf Islam, and after the release of his 11th and final Cat Stevens album (1978's Back to Earth), announced his retirement from the pop music business. Largely inactive during the '80s and '90s, he returned in 2006 with a new studio effort, An Other Cup, under the name Yusuf. In early 2009 he collaborated with "fifth Beatle" Klaus Voormann for a cover version of George Harrison's "The Day the World Gets 'Round." All proceeds from the song were donated to a charity to help the children of war-torn Gaza.
Later in 2009, he released the album Roadsinger. Yusuf toured often in the years after its release, and in 2010 he appeared at "The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear," an event hosted in Washington, D.C. by American satirists Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert; Yusuf sang "Peace Train" as a counterpoint to Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train," while both were topped by the O'Jays' performance of "Love Train." The year 2012 saw the premiere of Moonshadow, a stage musical built around Cat Stevens' best-known songs, which opened in Melbourne, Australia. In April 2014, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In October of 2014, a third album under the Yusuf name appeared, entitled Tell 'Em I'm Gone. The album, produced by Rick Rubin and featuring guitar work from Richard Thompson, saw Yusuf returning to the early blues and R&B that had inspired him as a young man. In 2017, as he celebrated the 50th anniversary of the release of his first Cat Stevens' single, he brought out a new album, The Laughing Apple. A collection of new songs, uncompleted tunes from the past, and new versions of numbers from his early career, the album reunited Yusuf with producer Paul Samwell-Smith and guitarist Alun Davies, both of whom worked with Stevens on his major hits in the '70s. ~ William Ruhlmann
- London, England
- 21 Jul 1948