Cat Stevens and Me

Tonight we reported on a London – Washington jet diverted to Bangor, ME. Homeland Security called for the diversion because one of the passengers, Yusuf Islam, is on a US Watch List… a nice way of saying we think he is a danger to this country.

Many people know Yusuf Islam by his former name, Cat Stevens.

Back when I was a disk jockey, playing Moon Shadow and Morning Has Broken, I would often say his real name was Steven Katz. Hey – I was a disk jockey. Cheap humor was my stock in trade.

When I read the wire copy story tonight, I remembered that I had met Cat Stevens, probably back in 1970. I was a disk jockey at WMUM – FM in Palm Beach, Florida. I had been invited to a concert, which was the custom when record labels were trying to promote their artists.

At the time I was dating a girl named Barbara. That’s about all I remember about her – her name.

Barbara and I drove to Ft. Lauderdale for the concert, but before it started, she got sick. I’m not sure what it was, but I remember she had trouble standing. Today it would be scary. Then, I was so naive – I never would have thought it could have been anything serious.

We were with the promotion people from Cat Stevens’ record label and they had backstage access. They found a couch and Barbara laid down… in Cat Stevens’ dressing room.

We never got to see him perform, but after the show he came back. It was, after all, his room. He was as nice as could be – a gentle man (and I am using both words individually by design). He seemed genuinely concerned.

This was nearly 35 years ago, so my memory is somewhat hazy, but I know it happened pretty much as I’ve just said. This impression of Cat Stevens has stayed with me throughout the years.

I hope our government is wrong – that he is not a threat. Of course, I hope no one is a threat. But hope isn’t enough. There are threats and I understand the need for vigilance.

My real hope is he’s still that gentle man I met in Ft. Lauderdale – that tonight’s diversion was a mistake. There’s no way I will ever know.