Pop Life

Oh Jesus! Rock's Top 5 Religious Conversions

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2. Cat Stevens, a.k.a. Yusuf Islam

The popular '70s folk singer converted to Islam and changed his name in 1977, allegedly following a near-drowning off the coast of Malibu and receiving the Qur'an as a birthday gift from his brother. While his Muslim spiritual leaders were in support of a continued career in music, the artist now known as Yusuf Islam felt the vanity and greed associated with the music business were in conflict with the teachings of the Qur'an, and retreated into near obscurity for more than 20 years.

Yusuf re-emerged as a spokesperson against Islamophobia following the 9/11 attacks, but was put on a no-fly list and denied entry to the U.S. in 2004 for what would prove to be unfounded allegations of affiliation with the Palestinian Hamas. His ordeal with Homeland Security is chronicled in "Boots and Sand", a 2008 song featuring Paul McCartney, Allison Krauss, Dolly Parton and Terry Sylvester that could possibly go down as the most passive politically-motivated song of all time.

Years ago [they said] I was a prophet. I used to say, 'No I'm not a prophet', they say 'Yes you are, you're a prophet'... Now I come out and say Jesus Christ is the answer. They say, 'Bob Dylan's no prophet.' They just can't handle it.

- Second Gospel Tour, Omaha Nebraska, January 25, 1980

1. Bob Dylan Finds Jesus

When Bob Dylan found Jesus in the late 1970s he made damn sure everyone knew about it. Described as his "Born Again" period, Dylan's divine revelation resulted in a five-month enrollment at Vineyard Christian Fellowship and three gospel albums. Slow Train Coming (1979) was a commercial and critical success, featuring the Grammy-winning song "Gotta Serve Somebody" that inspired a musical response from John Lennon titled "Serve Yourself".

However, Saved (1980) and Shot of Love (1981) were not, and by the time Infidels hit in 1983, Zimmy had returned to the teachings of the Torah. By 1984 Dylan seemed to be moving away from religion altogether, telling Rolling Stone the only faith-based establishment he belonged to was "The Church of The Poison Mind."

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Lauren Marmaduke
Contact: Lauren Marmaduke