Friday, Sep. 16, 2011

Steven Demetre Georgiou to Cat Stevens to Yusuf Islam

While many of the name changes on this list make absolutely no sense, the singer-songwriter once known as Cat Stevens had good reasons to change his name not once, but twice. The son of a Greek-Cypriot father and a Swedish mother, Steven Demetre Georgiou began his music career and changed his name to Cat Stevens because his girlfriend said he had eyes like a cat. "I couldn't imagine anyone going to the record store and asking for 'that Steven Demetre Georgiou album,'" Stevens said once in an interview. "And in England, and I was sure in America, they loved animals." In the 1970s, Stevens became one of the most famous singer-songwriters in the world with hits such as "Wild World" and "Peace Train."

After nearly drowning off the California coast in 1976, Stevens had a religious epiphany and began studying Islam. He officially converted in at the end of 1977, and the next year took the name Yusuf Islam because Yusuf is the Arabic version of Joseph, a name he had admired. After a nearly 20-year hiatus from performing, Islam returned to making music and mostly performs for philanthropic and charitable causes.