The 66-year-old musician formerly known as Cat Stevens announced on Monday from his home in Dubai that, starting this December, he will be performing in the U.S. for the first time since 1976. The tour, called “Peace Train…. Late Again," is named after one of his most famous songs, with a nod to his absence from the American stage for almost four decades. He is also releasing a blues album under the stage name Yusuf on Oct. 27, produced by Rick Rubin and titled “Tell ‘Em I’m Gone.”
In 1977, Cat Stevens caused a sensation by converting to Islam and, a year later, adopting the new name Yusuf Islam. He left the music industry at the height of his career, having practically provided the soundtrack to the 1970s decade, with folksy megahits such as “Wild World,” “Peace Train,” “Morning Has Broken," “Moonshadow ”and the entire soundtrack to the quirky cult movie “Harold and Maude.”
After his conversion, he auctioned all of his guitars for charity, and devoted himself to philanthropic causes in the Muslim community. His conversion to Islam was not without controversy. In 1989, he made statements during an interview on British television suggesting that he endorsed Ayatollah Khomeini’s “fatwa” or death sentence against Salman Rushdie for writing “The Satantic Verses,” statements which he later said were misconstrued.
Islam slowly emerged from his musical hiatus in the past decade, and performed in English for the first time in 2003 with Peter Gabriel for the Wild World 2003 live concert honoring Nelson Mandela. In April, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by his friend Art Garfunkel of Simon and Garfunkel. Accepting the award, he joked, “I never thought I’d be on the same stage as Kiss, to be honest.”
About his return to touring and playing music in the United States, Islam told the Associated Press, "I've been a bit slow in coming around to the United States, but there were so many people asking me to do that, that I just felt an obligation.” When asked about his conversion, he replied, "I'm afraid that a lot of things that people believe about Islam are totally different from the religion that most of us recognize," he said. "I was really fortunate that I got to know Islam before it became a headline."
The six-city “Peace Train.... Late Again" tour kicks off Dec. 4 in Boston, and continues on to New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and ends in Los Angeles on December 14.