Yusuf (Cat Stevens) and His Return to Tea for the Tillerman

Born in London’s West End, Cat Stevens was a successful musician in the 1960s and 1970s. His musical journey career was changing, adapting to the generation at that time. Pop, rock, and folk were some of the music genres he wrote and sang, all enjoyed by his fans.

A portrait of Cat Stevens.
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Later in his career, he began writing Islamic music. One of his most successful albums from that time was Tea for the Tillerman, which was released in 1970. Here we look back at that album and his journey to becoming Yusuf Islam.

Starting a Religious Journey

In 1977 he embraced Islam after receiving a copy of the Quran, a gift from his brother. The world was shocked that Cat Stevens had embraced Islam, even more when he announced his exit from the entertainment industry.

A portrait of Yusuf Islam.
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Being young and at the height of his career, he did not care about his fame as a music star and wanted to dedicate his life to charitable work and Islamic studies. He sold his musical instruments, focused on starting a family, and carried out numerous charity works for nearly three decades. He changed his name from Steven Georgiou to Yusuf Islam. However, he is still commonly known by his stage name.

Return to Music and Rerecording a Classic

In 2006 Yusuf Islam made a comeback to the music industry. He released his first album, which was welcomed by fans around the world. It was the successful launch of the first of his four albums. Yusuf thought about revisiting his past songs. He went through all the albums that paved his way to become one of the top writers and singers.

Yusuf Islam performs on stage.
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Yusuf and his oldest son Yoriyos thought about the possibility of reviving the 50-year-old classics but with a modern twist. In an interview with entertainment weekly, Yusuf said: “We sat down and started talking about ideas to mark this milestone” and came up with the idea of rerecording Tea for the Tillerman.

Yusuf’s Classics get a New Look

It was far more interesting for him to explore the possibilities for creating something different which would appeal to today’s generation. Simply relaunching his masterpiece was not enough, and he wanted to reimagine some of his classics.

Yusuf is preparing for a show backstage.
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Some of his hit songs that went through a complete makeover were “Longer Boats,” where his rapper brother Ali took part in the remake, adding new lyrics and meaning to the song. There was also “Miles from Nowhere,” which included a buzz-saw slide guitar, and “Wild World,” which was turned into a waltz performed in the style of Weimar-era Berlin.

His Message to New Fans

The updated version of the Tea for the Tillerman was not just the old classics rewritten. A new generation of listeners will discover music in the revamped version. At that time, it was his 16th studio album and called the reworked album simply Tea for the Tillerman 2.

Yusuf performs at O2 Apollo Manchester
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It was a great moment for him to look back on his career and what he’d achieved. The new album went to number 4 in the UK album charts, which was even better than the original Tea for the Tillerman album, which went to number 20.