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Folk singer Cat Stevens wrote the song "The First Cut is the Deepest" in the '60s. Since then it has become a hit for four different artists.
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Folk singer, songwriter. Born Stephen Demetre Georgiou on July 21, 1948, in London, England as the youngest of three children. His parents, Greek Cypriot father Stavros Georgiou and Swedish Baptist mother Ingrid Wickman, were restaurateurs; together, they ran the Moulin Rouge on Shaftsbury Avenue. Young Stevens and his siblings often pitched in and waited tables.
The family lived in a small apartment over the restaurant—the place where Stevens first learned to play the piano—and the glitz, glamour, and the nearby theatre presence of the West End was a strong influence on the young musician.
Although he was raised Greek Orthodox, Stevens' parents opted to send him to a Roman Catholic school. The combination of the two religious influences helped him develop a strong moral conscience, and provided an anti-Muslim slant to his upbringing.
At the age of eight, Stevens' parents divorced but continued to cohabitate. Even in the midst of the turmoil, the young man displayed a natural talent for artistic pursuits. In 1963, the15-year-old, smitten with The Beatles, convinced his father to buy him a guitar. The teenager quickly began writing and playing his own songs.
In July of 1964, while attending Hammersmith Art College, Stevens made his folk music debut at Black Horse, a local bar. The performance informally launched his career. A year later he landed a publishing deal as a songwriter, and adopted the stage name Cat Stevens.
During this period, he sold the hit "The First Cut is the Deepest" to soul singer P.P. Arnold for $40. The song was a hit, making it to No. 18 on the UK Singles Chart. A year after that, at the age of 18, producer Mike Hurst lured the singer over to Decca Records. Stevens soon released his first album, Matthew and Son, which featured the hits "I Love My Dog," "Here Comes My Baby," and the title track, which charted at No. 2 and further helped to boost his career.
Although Stevens was beginning to experience some success as a pop star, he longed to release some of his more seasoned tracks. Decca declined, insisting that Stevens had been positioned to appeal to a teen audience and should continue in this vein. The blow knocked Stevens into a depression, and the star self-medicated with alcohol. The stresses of his newfound work and his hard-partying lifestyle took an additional toll on his health, and by 1968 he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. A three-month stint in the hospital (and a lengthy convalescence) gave Stevens time to reflect on his chosen path and reevaluate his approach to life.
Although Stevens had experienced success overseas, the American release of Tea for the Tillerman (1970) and the single "Wild World" made Stevens a true star in the U.S. The album went gold, and brought a renewed interest to his previous recordings, which enjoyed a similar spike in sales.
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