Baby Boomer Celebrity: What Happened to Cat Stevens?

Posted on June 15th, 2011 in 1970s,Celebrities,Music,Pop Culture by Terry Hamburg

As they say, what a long, strange trip it’s been.

I had a fabled pop culture career in the 1970s – three of my albums went Triple Platinum. Every baby boomer listened to my music, even if they don’t recall much about me today. There’s a reason.

When I came close to death with tuberculosis in 1969, I embarked on a spiritual quest. Lots of baby boomers went down this road. Mine took a different fork, one that eventually led to Islam. In 1977, I changed my name to Yusuf Islam and abruptly stopped performing or writing music. I felt there was no way to have a commercial career and be faithful to the Koran. I married, had 5 children, and devoted my time to religious education and charity.

There are misconceptions about my relationship with radical Islam. I never condoned the death fatwa against writer Salman Rushdie. I openly deplored the 9/11 attack. Still, my name ended up on a watch list denying entry to the U.S. for alleged association with terrorists. It has since been lifted. Reports that I refuse to speak to unveiled women is false. A lawsuit against the magazine making that claim was successful. I do, however, request that lady presenters refrain from embracing me at public events.

Gradually, I began to play music again and give live performances. In 2006 and 2009, I released albums of new pop songs. I just finished a European tour.

Trivia Factoids

Cat Stevens was a hit machine. Here’s one: CAT

After converting to Islam, he auctioned off all his guitars for charity.

He makes about $1.5 million a year in royalties and other revenue from his earlier works.

For a brief time, Cat Stevens and singer Carly Simon were “an item.” Her hit Anticipation is about him.

Baby Boomer Trivia Questions

Who was the first woman to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone?

Diana Ross
Joan Baez
Pasty Cline
Tina Turner

Which album does Rolling Stone pick as the “Greatest of All Time?”

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band: Beatles
Blonde on Blonde: Bob Dylan
Exile on Main Street: The Rolling Stones
Pet Sounds: Beach Boys

Which ranks #2?

Boomers in Common: What do all they share?

Amy Winehouse
Janet Jackson
Jim Morrison
Cyndi Lauper

Answers at end of post

Notable Quotables

Imagine taking off your makeup and nobody knows who you are. ~Steven Tyler, Aerosmith.

We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first – rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity. ~John Lennon

Rock ‘n Roll: The most brutal, ugly, desperate, vicious form of expression it has been my misfortune to hear. ~Frank Sinatra

Guitar groups are on the way out. ~Decca Records executive, turning down a contract for the Beatles in 1962.

Watch another Cat Stevens hit: CAT


Answers to Baby Boomer Trivia Questions

Rolling Stone’s “Greatest Album of All Time” is  Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.


Boomers in Common: None of these music superstars has a #1 song.

Can’t get enough of Cat? Here’s one more: CAT

Related Post: Punk You

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