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Al Stewart (born Alastair Ian Stewart, 5 September 1945) is a Scottish singer-songwriter and folk-rock musician.
Stewart came to stardom as part of the British folk revival in the 1960s and 1970s, and developed his own unique style of combining folk-rock songs with delicately woven tales of characters and events from history.
Stewart is best known for his 1976 hit single "Year of the Cat", the title song from the platinum album of the same name.
Though Year of the Cat and its 1978 platinum follow-up Time Passages brought Stewart his biggest worldwide commercial successes, earlier albums such as Past, Present and Future from 1973 are often seen as better examples of his intimate brand of historical folk-rock - a style to which he has returned in recent albums.
Stewart was a key figure in a fertile era in British music and he appears throughout the musical folklore of the age. He played at the first ever Glastonbury Festival in 1970, knew Yoko Ono before she met John Lennon, shared a London apartment with a young Paul Simon, and hosted at the legendary Les Cousins folk club in London in the 1960s.
Stewart has released sixteen studio and three live albums since his debut album Bedsitter Images in 1967, and continues to tour extensively around the US and Canada, Europe and the UK. His latest release, is Uncorked, which was released on his independent label, Wallaby Trails Recordings.
Stewart has worked with Peter White, Alan Parsons, Jimmy Page, Richard Thompson, Rick Wakeman, Tori Amos and Tim Renwick and recently has played with Dave Nachmanoff and former Wings lead-guitarist Laurence Juber.
Stewart's debut album Bedsitter Images was released on LP in 1967 (though technically his first recording was 'The Elf', an extract from Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings' set to music and released by Decca in 1966, which sold an estimated 496 copies). A revised version appeared in 1970 as The First Album (Bedsitter Images) with a few tracks changed, and the album was reissued on CD in 2007 with all tracks from both versions. His first recording of any kind appears on Jackson C. Frank's first album, 1965's Jackson C. Frank, playing guitar on "Yellow Walls".
Love Chronicles (1969) was notable for the 18-minute title track, an anguished autobiographical tale of sexual encounters that was the first mainstream record release ever to include the word "fucking". It was voted "Folk Album of the Year" by the UK music magazine Melody Maker, and also features Jimmy Page and Richard Thompson on guitar.
His third album, Zero She Flies followed in 1970 and included a number of shorter songs which ranged from acoustic ballads and instrumentals to songs that featured electric lead guitar. These first three albums (including The Elf) were later released as the two CD set To Whom it May Concern: 1966–70.
In 1970, Stewart jumped into a car with fellow musician Ian A. Anderson and headed to the small town of Pilton, Somerset. There, at Michael Eavis's Worthy Farm, Stewart performed at the first ever Glastonbury festival to a field of 1,000 hippies who had paid just £1 each to be there.
On the back of his growing success, Stewart released Orange in 1972. It was written after a tumultuous break-up with his girlfriend and muse, Mandi, and was very much a transitional album, combining songs in Stewart's confessional style with more intimations of the historical themes that he would increasingly adopt (e.g. "The News from Spain", with its prog-rock overtones, including dramatic piano by Rick Wakeman).
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