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April : April 10.
Paul McCartney’s announcement about the end of the Beatles is front page news the world over.
April : April.
Single: Lady D’Arbanville/Time/Fill My Eyes. A melancholy “olde English” ballad in which the lady in question (Steve’s ex-girlfriend at the time) is metaphorically laid to rest. Featuring complementary acoustic work from freshly-hired second guitarist Alun Davies, drummer Harvey Burns’ Latin rhythms and a driving, syncopated bassline from John Ryan, “Lady D’Arbanville” is nothing like the Cat Stevens hits of yore; it takes U.K. radio by storm and ultimately reaches #8.
May : May.
Steve moves out of his parents’ home on Shaftesbury Avenue for the first time, purchasing a three-story house in Fulham and proceeds to construct a Japanese Garden and a small studio in the basement. He will live here until he leaves England for tax reasons four years later.
May : May.
LP: Mona Bone Jakon. The newly reflective Cat Stevens emerges with a set of plaintive and highly personal songs. Originally titled “The Dustbin Cried the Day the Dustman Died,” until it’s discovered the title is too long to fit on the cover with the painting Steve has provided; the song “Mona Bone Jakon” is a feral blues in the style of his early heroes.
August : August 6-9.
Plumpton Blues Festival – Steve’s comeback gig in England, performed with Alun Davies.
September : September.
Produced by Steve, who plays piano on the track, Jimmy Cliff’s version of “Wild World,” one of the reggae legend’s best-ever experiments in the pop style, reaches No. 12 in Britain. Cliff’s single will not be released in America for fear it will compete with the Cat Stevens version. Steve and his tiny coterie of comrades have been working at Morgan Studios in Willesden, London, virtually since the day “Mona” was released.
September : September 18.
Jimi Hendrix dies in London.
October : October.
Single: Wild World/Miles From Nowhere (U.S.) Reaches #11.
November : November.
LP: Tea For the Tillerman. The second Island album is the first to be issued in America under Steve’s newly-minted deal with A&M Records (“Mona” will belatedly follow before the year’s end). “He seems to fasten without effort onto tunes with a life of their own, tunes of small beginnings and wide resonances,” raves Rolling Stone. “It really must be heard.”
“Tillerman” catches fire on college campuses, where genuflecting singer/songwriters are finding sympathetic ears (“Tillerman” charts alongside James Taylor’s “Sweet Baby James,” Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush” and Paul Simon’s solo debut). Its exquisite simplicity and decidely English point of view strike a deep and resonant chord in the States and the album makes the Top Ten and earns a gold record. Steve had written and recorded the track “But I Might Die Tonight” in July for the Jerzy Skolimowski film “Deep End,” which featured Jane Asher and Diana Dors.
November : November 18.
Cat Stevens makes his American stage debut as he and Alun Davies open for Traffic at New York’s legendary Fillmore East. By the end of the short set he has won over the audience and receives three encores. Next, it’s three triumphant headlining shows at the Village Gaslight (with such luminaries as Joni Mitchell and James Taylor in the appreciative audience), followed by a few more dates a week at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, with opening act Carly Simon.
December : December 18.
Back home for a sold-out show at Fairfield Hall, Croydon, with Amazing Blondel as support.