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#ThrowbackThursday: Yusuf Islam aka Cat Stevens “The First Cut is the Deepest”

Yusuf Islam aka Cat StevensYusuf Islam aka Cat Stevens performing earlier this week on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon

by Sean Smith

Yusuf Islam, who went by the stage name Cat Stevens prior to changing his name in 1978 after converting to Islam, will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame today. Others in the 2014 Rock Hall class include Hall & Oates, Nirvana, Kiss, Linda Ronstadt, Peter Gabriel, Brian Epstein, Andrew Loog Oldham, and the E Street Band.

Everyone included in this years Rock Hall class is well deserving of the honor and Islam is no different. He had many hits over his career including “Wild World,” “Peace Train,” and “Father and Son” just to name a few. But my favorite song of his is one that he is not well known for. Rather, it is the covers of this song by other artists that people associate with his work.

Islam wrote “The First Cut is the Deepest” in 1965. He sold it for a bargain price of just 30 British Pounds to P.P. Morgan to perform and release as a single of her own. Morgan’s version was released in early 1967 and charted in the top 20 on the UK charts. Later that year Islam recorded his own version of the song and included it on his second LP New Masters, but did not release it as a single due to the success of Morgan’s version just a few months prior.

In 1976 the song was covered by another artist and it proved to be even more successful on the charts than Morgan’s 1967 version. Rod Stewart included a version of the song on his 1976 album A Night on the Town and he released it as a single.. His cover of Islam’s “The First Cut is the Deepest” reached the top of the UK charts in 1977 and charted to the #21 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 charts here in the States. But it was Sheryl Crow’s cover of Islam’s masterpiece that proved to be the most successful commercially in the U.S.. Her rendition, included on her 2003 compilation album The Very Best of Sheryl Crow, reached the #14 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart where it stayed on the chart for 36 weeks. It also topped Billboard’s Adult Top 40 and Adult Contemporary charts respectively.

And so in honor of Yusuf Islam, better known as Cat Stevens, being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame today, we remember his song “The First Cut is the Deepest.” Enjoy!

Cat Stevens 

“The First Cut Is The Deepest”

Deram/Decca Records

P.P. Arnold 

“The First Cut Is The Deepest”

Immediate Records

Rod Stewart 
“The First Cut Is The Deepest”
Riva Records
Sheryl Crow 
“The First Cut Is The Deepest”
A&M Records

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