Yusuf/Cat Stevens

Happy Birthday, Yusuf!

When I started working on Starart, Yusuf was Cat Stevens. We met several times in Los Angeles, gathered all his artwork, did an interview for the text which included his thoughts on each piece of art. Several months later I went to London to pick up and shoot some of Klaus Voormann's works and to show Steven (as he was called) the mock-up for his section and make the final revisions before we went to print. When I got to his London office, he was dressed completely in white and was sitting on a window sill studying the Koran. He told me he was now Yusuf Islam but he would honor his agreement to be in the book but he didn't want the text I had written from the interviews we did. Instead he wanted to use lyrics with each word that represented a color had to be printed in that color. I did finally convince him to leave in some of his quotes about the pieces of art.

I appreciated that he took his transition to becoming a Muslim very seriously. And respected him for not backing out of the project - his art works were amazing and fit well with the other five artists. I was disappointed that I didn't get to shoot his portrait for the book as I did with the others as he was no longer Cat Stevens...so I had to use this one which he provided.

This is one of many pieces of art in Cat Stevens's section of Starart.

Tried to find are more current live video as he's back to playing but those ones are all full concerts, but I love this song and his intro to it.


Another Saturday Night

It's Saturday which immediately reminded me of this song, written by Sam Cooke (1963) and covered by Cat Stevens (1974). The song was a top 10 hit for both of them.


I worked with Cat Stevens a couple of years after this concert, when he agreed to participate in my first book, Starart. When I was working with him in Los Angeles, he was Cat Stevens and when I went to work with him in London he was in the process of becoming Yusuf Islam. He was conflicted on continuing his participation in the book - which also includes Joni Mitchell, John Mayall, Klaus Voormann, Ron Wood and Commander Cody - since he was 'no longer' Cat Stevens. 

He chose to stay in the book because he had made the commitment, however, he did tell out the opening text (written from an interview I did with him) to his section of the book and most of the comments he had made about his art. I digitized the interview and may post it some tim e in the future. Thinking I should also find the original text that was going to be in the book and publish that at some point.

This is one of his pieces from the book. It is Untitled. Definitely inspired by his exploration of Buddhism. 


Enjoy the rest of your weekend!