Born in London to a Greek Orthodox father and Baptist mother, Steven Georgiou developed an interest in music at an early age and, inspired by British groups such as The Beatles, he began writing and playing music as a teenager. By the age of 18 he signed his first record deal. His success was immediate as his debut album reached the top 10 in the UK. By 1968 he contracted tuberculosis as the result of a grueling schedule that included shows, appearances and interviews. He was forced to put the pop-star lifestyle on hold while being hospitalized for several months. According to CatStevens.com he then "began a process of inner reflection and meditation... His lyrics became more subtle and intuitive, and he was now beginning to explore spiritual paths." His newfound spirituality would be challenged when he nearly drown while swimming in the Pacific Ocean. Shortly thereafter he was given a copy of the Qur'an by his brother and in 1977 he converted to Islam.