Another exclusive Rave interview. This
particular interview appeared in the March 2, 1967 issue. The Rave magazine appears to be
a British mod/hip teenage girls magazine that focused on clothes, fads and teen idols.
- TIN PAN
- ALLEY CAT
singer, sometimes loner, sometimes family manTin Pan Alleys latest discovery
is all these things. RAVEs Dawn James finds out more for you about the lives of Cat
He walked along Carnaby
Street, dark against the scarlet of Lord John, and the purple of Gear. His navy blue shirt
and jeans hung limply on his slim body, his black hair curled towards matching eyes. He is
called Cat Stevens, songwriter and singer, and really quite an ordinary eighteen year old.
He likes cool, longhaired, short-skirted birds, he yearns for cups of coffee and plates of
toast at ten in the morning. And he answers Yer and No to most questions
because they seem, to him, adequate answers.
"Are you thrilled at
"Do you have a very
busy life now?"
"Are you scared of
We stopped at a nearby
café just around the corner from Carnaby Street. Cat bit on a piece of toast, sipped at a
third cup of coffee, and grinned. "I dont say enough, do I? I find life rather
good and uncomplex just now, and so I havent a lot to say. If I was unhappy and
frustrated, Id be shouting my mouth off, but things have been so goodits
made me a bit..."
Cat got his break into pop
when his brother, twenty-four year old David, took him into recording manager Mike Hurst,
and asked. "Can he sing, Mike?"
Mike Hurst said he could
sing, but wasnt that unusual, just a nice, tuneful singer.
"Just as an
afterthought," Mike explained, "I asked if he wrote songs. He said he did, a
bit, and played me Dog. Cat was made. You can have a dozen good singers, but
all you need to make it in pop is one good song.
Cat chewed on the toast,
and said smugly, "David and I had it all worked out, see. We didnt want to go
to Mike saying how great I was, because everyone says that when they are trying to get in.
No, we wanted to butter him up a bit, so we decided that by asking his advice first we
were flattering him, and getting a hearing. It worked."
Mike and Cat have since
become great friends. When together, they knock each other, verbally and
physicallypunches in the stomach and buffs about the head, and lots of taunting
jokes like, "Was I good on stage last night Mike?" "You were lousy Cat
Cat lives at home in
Shaftesbury Avenue, London, with his mother who owns a café downstairs.
We have the whole building,
and live upstairs," Cat explained. "My mother is Swedish and my dad is Greek. I
get my colouring from dad. I like living at home. I invite my friends round and mum joins
in the fun.
Cat has lots of pop
friends, but his two closest friends are boys he has known all his life.
"They are in Greece,
and have been for several months now. But as soon as they get back we shall go round
Despite many friends, Cat
is basically a loner. He goes to pop places such as the Cromwellian Club and the Bag
o Nails, but he feels alone most of the time.
"I can be as remote in
company as on a Desert Island," he explained. "Often, when I am in a crowd, I
feel so alone I could cry from it."
Isnt he chased by
fans all the time? "No. Its a drag, but no-one ever recognizes me. I go on
tubes and buses, and walk around the streets, without anyone noticing. I dont feel
famous at all, I wish they would recognize me." He looked a bit sad, and I wished
they would too. However there are advantages to his being able to travel about
unrecognised, because it was coming out of South Kensington tube station that he got the
idea for Matthew And Son.
"There is a furniture
store opposite the station called Matthew. I looked at it, and saw and
Son, and wrote the song from that."
"How long does it take
to write a song, Cat?"
He shrugged, the way he
often does, head to one side, arms splayed out either side of him.
"A few minutes, an
hour, a month. I cant generalize. Matthew took a month.
write my best songs when I am sad. If I am happy I cannot write well. Even if I write a
happy song, I have to be sad."
"What makes you
Again the shrug.
Anything. Its not miserable sad, sort of quiet, dreamy sad. I can get it
looking at people, maybe shabby, or ugly people or if it is a nice evening and I smell
something in the air, spring, or winter, something that moves me. It is hard to
explain." He grinned.
As both writer and
performer of his hits, Cat is likely to make quite a bit of money from record sales, as
well as public performances. What does he intend doing with the money?
"Not a lot," he
said. "All I really want is to build a temple on a hillside i?~ Greece, and live in
What? Leave swinging
London? Not buy fastcars, yachts, penthouses?
"Just a cool, marble
temple in Greece, where I can make music in peace. See, all I want to do is make music.
Id like to make real music that didnt need the human voice, something purely
orchestral. And yet I like pop. It is an outlet for a certain music art. I dont
sneer at it and want to leave it behind and do better things. But I do want real musicians
and music critics to see something in my pop music.
The dark head moved.
"Shall we go?" he asked.
- Magical Names
The streets of London shone
in the cold sunlight of late winter. There were lots of people darting across his path,
but they didnt recognise him, and despite them all he was alone. Lord John, Gear,
Bag o Nails, Carnaby Streetmagical names in the magical world of pop, fashion,
entertainment, music; and amongst it all, a dark boy, getting ideas for more songs, so
that he can build a temple on a Greek hillside, and make music, peacefully.
But I wonder ..