Al Stewart

Born in Scotland but raised in Wimborne, Dorset, Al Stewart is best-known for his 1977 international hit Year Of The Cat, but he'd already made a formidable mark in the UK as one of the prime singer-songwriters on the British folk scene. He bought his first guitar from future Police instrumentalist Andy Summers but traded it in for an acoustic guitar when he got a residency at Bunjie's coffee house in Soho, London, playing alongside contemporaries like Cat Stevens, Bert Jansch, Van Morrison, Roy Harper and Ralph McTell. He released his first single The Elf in 1966 - with Jimmy Page on guitar - and became a hero among singer-songwriters after his first album Bedsitter Images in 1967. The 18-minute title track of his second album Love Chronicles aroused controversy due to its frank account of his sexual activities and use of the F-word and in 1970 Stewart appeared at the first-ever Glastonbury Festival. Personal albums like Zero She Flies (1970) and Orange (1972) followed, but the influence of prog-rock and psychedelia on Past Present & Future (1973) and Modern Times (1975) broadened his fan base. It was Year Of The Cat, however, which made him a star and his winning formula of melodic tunes and thoughtful lyrics continued his success through the 1980s. In 2000 he made a concept album Down In The Cellar, based on his passion for wine, and continued to satisfy his considerable fan base with A Beach Full Of Shells (2005), Sparks Of Ancient Light (2008) and the live album Uncorked (2009).

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