Though Al Stewart was known in America primarily as purveyor of '70s soft rock on account of his two big U.S. hits, England viewed him as a respected singer/songwriter with a history that goes back to the '60s folk scene. Born in Glasgow, Scotland on September 5, 1945, Stewart was raised in England in the town of Wimborne. In the mid '60s he became a part of the vibrant London folk scene based around clubs like Les Cousins and Bunjies, which included the likes of Jackson C. Frank, Bert Jansch, and Roy Harper. Stewart's first appearance on record was his guitar contribution to "Yellow Walls" on Frank's 1965 debut album. By the next year, he had released his first solo single, folk-rocker "The Elf," on Decca Records. The record made nary a ripple, but he soon signed with CBS and released the orchestrated Bedsitter Images in 1967, delivering a mature artistic statement with his debut LP. Though he remained commercially unsuccessful through the mid '70s, his reputation grew, as did his songwriting, which came to incorporate a sophisticated sense of history in Stewart's increasingly complex lyrics. His fortunes changed in 1976 with his move to RCA for Year of the Cat when the album's mysterious but pop-friendly title track became his first hit in the U.S. and U.K. He scored an even bigger U.S. hit with the title tune of his 1978 album Time Passages, embracing the pop side of his musical personality without sacrificing his lyrical smarts. While that was pretty much the end of his brush with stardom, a pair of Platinum albums proved enough to sustain Stewart, who would continue to release albums full of carefully crafted folk-rock tunes for decades to come.