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Fame (David Bowie song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bowie Fame.jpg
Single by David Bowie
from the album Young Americans
B-side "Right"
Released 25 July 1975 (1975-07-25)
Format 7"
Recorded Electric Lady Studios, New York City January 1975
Genre Funk[1]
  • 3:30 (single edit)
  • 4:12 (album version)
Label RCA
David Bowie singles chronology
"Young Americans"
"Golden Years"
"Young Americans"
"Golden Years"

"Never Let Me Down"
(1987) Never Let Me Down1987

"Fame '90"
(1990) Fame '901990

"Real Cool World"
(1992) Real Cool World1992
Tin Machine singles chronology
"Prisoner of Love"
(1989) Prisoner of Love1989
"Fame '90"
(1990) Fame '901990
"You Belong in Rock n' Roll"
(1991) You Belong in Rock n' Roll1991
Music video
"Fame '90" on YouTube

"Fame" is a song recorded by David Bowie, initially released in 1975. Written by Bowie, Carlos Alomar and John Lennon, it was a hit in North America, becoming Bowie's first number 1 single in the Canadian Singles Chart as well as the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. The song was one of the more successful singles of the year, ranking at number 7 on the Billboard Year-End Hot 100. It was less successful in Europe, reaching number 17 in the UK Singles Chart.

The song is one of four of Bowie's songs to be included in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.[2]

Song development

With the Young Americans sessions mostly concluded by late 1974, the material was delayed while Bowie extricated himself from his contract with manager Tony Defries. During this time, he was staying in New York City, where he met John Lennon. The pair jammed together, leading to a one-day session at Electric Lady Studios in January 1975. There, Carlos Alomar had developed a guitar riff for Bowie's cover of "Footstompin'" by the Flairs, which Bowie thought was "a waste" to give to a cover. Lennon, who was in the studio with them, sang "aim" over the riff, which Bowie turned into "Fame" and he thereafter wrote the rest of the lyrics to the song.[3]

Lennon's voice is heard interjecting the falsetto "Fame" throughout the song.

Bowie would later describe "Fame" as "nasty, angry", and fully admitted that it was written "with a degree of malice" aimed at the Mainman management group with whom he had been working at the time. In 1990, Bowie recalled the song as his "least favourite track on the album"[4] and reflected: "I'd had very upsetting management problems and a lot of that was built into the song. I've left all that behind me, now... I think fame itself is not a rewarding thing. The most you can say is that it gets you a seat in restaurants."[5]

Chart performance

"Fame" became Bowie's biggest hit to that point in the US. It was his first number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, as well as his first to break the top 10, but would only reach number 17 in the UK Singles Chart.

Bowie would later claim that he had "absolutely no idea" that the song would do so well as a single, saying "I wouldn't know how to pick a single if it hit me in the face."[6]

1975 track listing

  1. "Fame" (Bowie, Alomar, Lennon) – 3:30
  2. "Right" (Bowie) – 4:13

Charts and certifications

1975 musicians



Live versions

Other releases

In pop culture

Cover versions

Preceded by
"Rhinestone Cowboy" by Glen Campbell
"I'm Sorry" / "Calypso" by John Denver
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
20 September 1975 (one week)
4 October 1975 (one week)
Succeeded by
"I'm Sorry" / "Calypso" by John Denver
"Bad Blood" by Neil Sedaka
"Fame '90"
The single cover shows David Bowie standing in front of a Ziggy-era poster and the words "Fame 90 David Bowie"
Single by David Bowie
from the album Changesbowie
Released 26 March 1990 (1990-03-26)
Format Single
Length 3:36 (Gass Mix)
  • EMI
  • Rykodisc
David Bowie singles chronology
"Never Let Me Down"
"Fame '90"
"Real Cool World"
"Never Let Me Down"
Tin Machine:
"Prisoner of Love" (1989)
"Fame '90"
"Real Cool World"
Tin Machine:
"You Belong in Rock 'n' Roll" (1991)

"Fame '90"

A remixed version of "Fame" was released by EMI in 1990 to coincide with the Sound+Vision Tour, the release of the Changesbowie compilation, and the Pretty Woman soundtrack. Bowie wanted to remix a successful American single for the tour and album release; of the two options ("Let's Dance" and "Fame"), "Let's Dance" was simply too recent. Bowie liked the choice: "It covers a lot of ground, Fame; it stands up really well in time. It still sounds potent. It's quite a nasty, angry little song. I quite like that."[5] The "Gass Mix" was subsequently included on the Pretty Woman soundtrack.

Track listing

Song written by David Bowie, Carlos Alomar, and John Lennon.

US CD single (Rykodisc RCD5 1018)

  1. "Fame '90" (with Queen Latifah) – 4:10
  2. "Fame '90" (House Mix) – 5:58
  3. "Fame '90" (Gass Mix) – 3:38
  4. "Fame '90" (Hip Hop Mix) – 5:58
  5. "Fame '90" (Absolutely Nothing Premeditated/Epic Mix) – 14:25

West Germany maxi CD single (EMI CDP 560-20-3805-2)

  1. "Fame '90" (House Mix) – 5:58
  2. "Fame '90" (Hip Hop Mix) – 5:58
  3. "Fame '90" (Gass Mix) – 3:38
  4. "Fame '90" (Queen Latifah's Rap Version) – 3:10

"Exclusive Changes pack" 7" vinyl single (FAMES 90)

  1. "Fame '90" (Gass Mix) – 3:38
  2. "Fame '90" (Queen Latifah's Rap Version) – 3:10

Limited edition 7" vinyl picture disc (FAME PD 90)

  1. "Fame '90" (Gass Mix) – 3:38
  2. "Fame '90" (Bonus Beat Mix) – 4:45
  • The single was released in a variety of formats: as a 7" single, a cassette single, a 12" single, CD singles and two limited edition releases: a picture disc (featuring the unique "Bonus Beat mix") and a 7" envelope pack that included 3 prints reflecting different phases in Bowie's career and a unique mix of Queen Latifah's mix[22]


Film director Gus Van Sant directed the promotional video for this version, which featured clips from many of Bowie’s previous videos.[22] In the music video, Bowie also performs a dance with Louise Lecavalier, one of the main dancers of the Québécois contemporary dance troupe La La La Human Steps (whom Bowie would collaborate with on the Sound + Vision tour).[23]

David Bowie's "Fame" was used as the soundtrack of an animated music video of the same title, directed by Richard Jefferies and Mark Kirkland while students at California Institute of the Arts. The film, released in 1975, went on to win the Student Academy Award for animation and aired on NBC's The Midnight Special[24].

Other releases

  • "Fame '90" also appeared on:
    • Changesbowie (1990)
    • Best of Bowie (2002) (Germany/Switzerland/Austria and Australia versions; Colombia/Ecuador/Peru/Venezuela contains both versions)

Chart positions

Chart Peak
Belgian Singles Chart[25] 22
Dutch Singles Chart[25] 16
New Zealand Singles Chart[25] 32
Swiss Singles Chart[25] 29
UK Singles Chart[26] 28


  1. ^ Taylor, Steve (2006). The A to X of Alternative Music. Continuum. p. 45. ISBN 0826482171. Retrieved 31 July 2013. ...'Fame', a funk workout... 
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 March 2010. Retrieved 2008-01-12. 
  3. ^ Timothy White's Rock Stars: Hearing Pictures: David Bowie's Sound + Vision (radio interview). 20 May 1990. 
  4. ^ Pegg 2000, Fame
  5. ^ a b "David Bowie Interview". Q magazine: 60–70. April 1990{{inconsistent citations}} 
  6. ^ Isler, Scott (August 1987). "David Bowie Opens Up - A Little". Musician (106): 60–73{{inconsistent citations}} 
  7. ^ " – David Bowie – Fame" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  8. ^ "Archívum – Slágerlisták – MAHASZ" (in Hungarian). Single (track) Top 40 lista. Magyar Hanglemezkiadók Szövetsége. Retrieved 23 January 2016.
  9. ^ " – David Bowie – Fame" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  10. ^ " – David Bowie – Fame". VG-lista. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  11. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  12. ^ "David Bowie Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  13. ^ "David Bowie Chart History (Hot Rock Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  14. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". 
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Canadian single certifications – David Bowie – Fame". Music Canada. Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  17. ^ "American single certifications – David Bowie – Fame". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 24 February 2013.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
  18. ^
  19. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin (28 August 2013). "Watch: New Clip From 'Rush' Plus Details On The Soundtrack Which Includes David Bowie, Thin Lizzy & Hans Zimmer". IndieWire. Retrieved 22 September 2013. 
  20. ^ Goss, William (2014-05-19). "Cannes Review: 'Foxcatcher' Wrestles With the Cost of All-American Ambition". Film School Rejects. 
  21. ^ Gordon, Jeremy (10 December 2014). "The Smashing Pumpkins and Die Antwoord's Ninja Cover David Bowie's "Fame"". Pitchfork. Retrieved 11 December 2014. 
  22. ^ a b "News," Melody Maker magazine, 24 March 1990, page 3
  23. ^ "Rolling Stone Summer Music Guide 1990", Rolling Stone: 3, 1990 
  24. ^
  25. ^ a b c d David Bowie Fame 90 (Song), archived from the original on 12 November 2013, retrieved 11 November 2013 
  26. ^ Official Charts Company - Fame 90, archived from the original on 12 November 2013, retrieved 11 November 2013 


  • Pegg, Nicholas (2000). The Complete David Bowie. Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. ISBN 1-903111-14-5. 

External links

This page was last edited on 24 December 2017, at 03:49.
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