Cat Stevens 'Taken Aback' By Rock Hall Induction

Aminah Yusuf
Yusuf Islam

"I'm not sure I feel very comfortable being in a museum, but you can't stop life doing things to you," Yusuf Islam says of his surprise selection ... Also: a "bluesy" album is eyed for late-2014

Whether he's called Cat Stevens or Yusuf (Islam), as he's been known since 1977, the iconic singer-songwriter is happy to be headed into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

"There's no problem. It's me," Yusuf tells Billboard, adding with a chuckle that, "I don't think anybody should begrudge me the small satisfaction of this honor by giving it to someone else. I'm feeling very good about it, and it kind of affirms one of my lyrics (from 1971's 'The Wind'), which says 'Where I end up, what I think, only God really knows."

Yusuf, who was previously nominated for the Rock Hall in 2006, says the news that he'll be part of the class of 2014 -- being inducted April 10 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn -- came as "a big surprise. I was taken aback because I was kind of used to a, if you like, kind of status of self-detachment from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I see that the acceptance of me in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is kind of a rapproachment thing, which is very welcome. It's good because a lot of people may have, I don't know, taken different views about my life choices (his surprising and controversial conversion to Islam during 1977), but it's come back down to the music, which is good. When you start out in music you certainly don't see anything like this; you just do it because you love what you do. I'm not sure I feel very comfortable being in a museum, but you can't stop life doing things to you."

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Yusuf says he plans to attend the induction ceremony but hasn't yet been asked to play. 

"I'm hoping they'll go straight to Kiss," he says with a laugh. He is, however, working on a new album, his first since 2009's "Roadsinger," which he says has "a kind of bluesy" tone at the moment. 

"That's an area of my musical background and influence which has never really revealed itself to people," he notes. "It's something I've always wanted to do. Going back to the 60s, all of Britain was enamored with what was happening in the blues world, and I was one of those who was an avid fan of blues and R&B. And in the end my voice seems to be quite interestingly suited to that kind of genre, too, and I'm having a great time doing it." 

Yusuf says he hopes to have the album out before the end of 2014. 

Having completed a recent tour of South America, he also plans to perform live during 2014, though no dates are currently on the books. 

"I'm getting bombarded with lots of offers, and they're all very lovely, too," Yusuf says. "One of the things I find very enjoyable right now is to go to certain countries that I've never been to before and places that would never have dreamt of seeing me, perhaps, perform. I'm sort of ticking them off one by one, and there's so many great places to play. I'm picking and choosing where I like to go, and I make it quite a holiday for myself as well. I take the family along, and we have a great time."