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February : February 6.
Auditions for Mike Hurst in the latter’s Knightsbridge office. A former member of the Springfields, Hurst is looking to manage and produce new talent. Steve tells Hurst his stage name is Cat Stevens because a girlfriend at art school had told him he had eyes like a cat’s. Hurst loves him but is noncommittal; the two will meet again in June and cut rough demos of four songs, resulting in a management contract and a recording deal with Deram, Decca’s new custom label.
July : July 10.
For the first recording session proper, Hurst chooses Steve’s “I Love My Dog,” which he allies with a staccato, tympani-and-viola arrangement unlike anything on the pop charts at the time. The session bassist is John Paul Jones, two years shy of Led Zeppelin. Nicky Hopkins plays piano. The B-side, “Portobello Road,” was written by American Kim Fowley, an Ardmore and Beechwood client who persuaded Cat Stevens to compose the melody. Seven takes of “I Love My Dog” require most of the three-hour session; “Portobello Road,” a solo (with whistling from Steve), is cut in 20 minutes.
November : “I Love My Dog/Portobello Road” reaches #28. The non-stop promotion machine, personal appearances in working men’s clubs and theatres, begins to whir.
December : December 26.
Begins a 14-day run at Brian Epstein’s Saville Theatre. The “Fame in ’67” show also includes Georgie Fame, Julie Felix and Sounds Incorporated.
December : December 30.
With its sly blend of Dickensian imagery and Carnaby Street musical jangle (the latter courtesy of Hurst and his arranger Allen Tew), the single “Matthew and Son” takes Britain by storm, reaching No. 2 in the chart and turning Cat Stevens into a pop phenomenon.