Al Stewart â€” born Alastair Ian Stewart â€” is a British folk-rock singer-songwriter born in 1945. Author of a handful of iconic songs still heard regularly on radio today in classic and folk-rock circles, Stewart recorded nearly two dozen albums in his prime, and has been performing actively for over 40 years.
Stewartâ€™s musical career began in 1964, when he dropped out of high school to pursue music full time. He moved to London to study music, but spent his spare time playing in folk clubs and searching for gigs. Taking cues from popular American folk acts of the day, Stewart quickly developed a career of his own in the mid-â€˜60s British folk revival, releasing several albums to critical acclaim.
By the 1970s, Stewart had re-emerged at the forefront of the UKâ€™s folk-rock movement, blending traditional folk sounds with electric instruments and a cheeky, inquisitive lyrical style. His rise to fame started in hit in 1975 with a record-setting and award-winning single, â€œYear of the Catâ€, and in 1976, his album Year of the Cat secured him a worldwide audience.
The distinctive lyrics and quick paced prose of songs like â€œYear of the Catâ€, â€œMidas Shadowâ€, â€œLord Grenvilleâ€, â€œOn the Borderâ€, and dozens more made Stewart a likely influence for a variety of later singers, songwriters and bands. It was during this period that Stewart really came into his own style, incorporating often bleak melancholy lyrics with cheerful, often historical, narrative.
The next level for Stewart came during the 1980s, when his record sales began to slump, prompting Stewart to lean heavily on his touring and the arrival of a new and talented backing band comprised of percussionist Peter White, mandolin player Jeff Newell and guitarist P.J. Olszac. Together, the group left behind the strictly folk-rock sound of the '70s and crafted the ideal patchwork of wit, biting irony and gentle, pensive folk-rock that created Stewartâ€™s â€˜80s hits â€œTime Passagesâ€ and â€œSong on the Radioâ€.
Stewart's talent at historical fiction was also a sideshow unto itself. His 1973 album Past, Present and Future remains one of the most poignant albums of the 1970s, weaving an implied narrative of the perils of Man as depicted through the time travel of an Everyman. Stewartâ€™s 2020 album Forgotten Mans Dream stands as a testament to Stewartâ€™s generational references and longstanding ability to touch on themes both ancient and modern.
In the 1980s and â€˜90s, producers, engineers and musicians fell in love with Stewartâ€™s folk-rock sound while working on remixes, videos and masterings for more popular acts. This led to a commercial awareness of Stewartâ€™s solo material and an increase in popular recognition. Stewart was even inducted into the National Association of Independent Recording Artistsâ€™ highly sought after Digital Music Hall of Fame in 1998.
Al Stewart has enjoyed a long, successful career in music; his songs can be heard daily on classic and folk-rock-sized radio channels. Stewart continues to tour in the present day largely Europe and Asia, regaling audiences with material from back catalogue and introducing semi-regular studio work with ongoing exerts to revive tried and true sounds from the â€˜70s.
The passionate songwriting and performative style crafted over Al Stewartâ€™s half-century career yearns to live on into many more. He is a monarch and a sage, a bold influence in folk-rock music, with a steady message about the history of longing and how music remains the enduring platitude that speaks to us all.