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.