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Cat Stevens

Cat Stevens, born Steven Demetre Georgiou, was the son of a Swedish mother and a Greek father who ran a restaurant in London. He became interested in folk music and rock 'n' roll in his teens while attending Hammersmith College and in 1965 began performing under the name Steve Adams. Mike Hurst, a former member of the folk-pop group the Springfields, who had become a record producer, heard him and took him into a recording studio to cut his composition "I Love My Dog." This demo caused Decca Records to sign him under the name Cat Stevens and assign him to its newly formed Deram subsidiary. "I Love My Dog" reached the British charts in October 1966, peaking in the Top 40. Stevens' next single, "Matthew and Son," entered the charts in January 1967 and just missed getting to number one (in America, it grazed the bottom of the charts). It was another self-written effort, and Stevens' reputation as a writer was further enhanced by the success of his song "Here Comes My Baby," which was recorded by the Tremeloes and entered the British charts in February, reaching the Top Five. (In America, it peaked just outside the Top Ten.) Stevens' third single, "I'm Gonna Get Me a Gun," entered the British charts in March and reached the Top Ten, preceded by his debut album, Matthew and Son, also a Top Ten entry. In May, P.P. Arnold got into the British charts with Stevens' composition "The First Cut Is the Deepest," peaking in the Top 20. (Ten years later, Rod Stewart topped the U.K. charts and reached the U.S. Top 20 with his revival of the song.) Stevens' fourth single, "A Bad Night," was in the charts in August, peaking in the Top 20. That was a disappointment, considering his recent success, and his next records did even worse: "Kitty," his fifth single, barely made the charts in December, while New Masters, his second album, didn't chart at all. Even worse, in March 1968, Stevens contracted tuberculosis and was hospitalized for three months. He spent a year recuperating. After the failure of an intended comeback single, "Where Are You," released in July 1969, he parted ways with Deram.