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File:Bowie Fame.jpg
Song by David Bowie
from the album Young Americans
Released25 July 1975 (1975-07-25)
RecordedElectric Lady Studios, New York City January 1975
  • 3:30 (single edit)
  • 4:12 (album version)
  • Harry Maslin
  • David Bowie

"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 Billboard Hot 100 and one of the most successful singles of the year, ranking at number 7 on the Billboard Year-End Hot 100. The single was less successful in Europe, reaching number 17 in the UK Singles Chart.

The song is 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 the song 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 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."[4]

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."[5]

1975 track listing[]

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

Charts and certifications[]

1975 musicians[]


  • David Bowie – lead vocals, guitar
  • John Lennon – backing vocals, guitar, production, tape loops
  • Carlos Alomar – guitar
  • Emir Ksasan – bass
  • Dennis Davis – drums


  • David Bowie – vocals, guitar
  • Carlos Alomar – guitar
  • Mike Garson – piano
  • Willie Weeks – bass
  • Andy Newmark – drums
  • David Sanbornsaxophone
  • Larry Washingtonconga
  • Luther Vandross, Robin Clark, Ava Cherry – backing vocals

Live versions[]

  • A live version recorded at the Nassau Coliseum stop on the 1976 Station to Station tour was released on Live Nassau Coliseum '76, part of the 2010 Station to Station reissues.
  • A spring 1978 performance from the "Heroes" tour can be heard on Stage.
  • A live performance filmed on 12 September 1983 is included in the concert DVD Serious Moonlight.
  • Live versions recorded during Bowie's 1987 Glass Spider Tour (in Sydney, Australia and Montreal, Canada) were released as part of the Glass Spider concert DVD/CD package.
  • An updated version recorded live by Bowie on 27 June 2000 was released on BBC Radio Theatre, London, June 27, 2000, a bonus disc accompanying the first release of Bowie at the Beeb in 2000.
  • A November 2003 live performance from the A Reality Tour is featured on the A Reality Tour DVD, released in 2004, as well as the A Reality Tour album, released in 2010.

Other releases[]

  • It was released as the B-side of the US release of "Beauty and the Beast" in January 1978.
  • It appears on several compilations in its album version:
    • ChangesOneBowie (1976)
    • Fame and Fashion (1984)
    • Bowie: The Singles 1969–1993 (1993)
    • The Best of David Bowie 1974/1979 (1998)
    • Best of Bowie (2002)
    • The Platinum Collection (2006)
    • Nothing Has Changed (2014)
  • The 7" single version appeared on The Best of Bowie (1980), as well as on Have a Nice Decade: The 70s Pop Culture Box (1998).

In pop culture[]

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  • Bowie performed the song in a 1975 episode of Soul Train, one of the few white artists to appear on the long-running black music television series.
  • In 1990, a new mix was used on the soundtrack for the movie Pretty Woman (see below).
  • It was used in the movie A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries by James Ivory and Ismail Merchant.
  • It was used in the movie Copycat during a murder scene in a bar.
  • It was released as a picture disc in the RCA Life Time picture disc set.
  • It was featured on an episode of Nip/Tuck.
  • It was featured on an episode of Doogie Howser, M.D..
  • It featured in the Ashes to Ashes episode "Charity Begins at Home".
  • It was featured on an episode of Ugly Betty.
  • It appears as a playable track in Guitar Hero 5.
  • It was featured on an episode of Lizzie McGuire.
  • It is downloadable content for Rock Band 3.
  • It was used in the movie Next Friday for Pinky's intro to his record store.
  • It was used in the movie Bustin' Down the Door by Shaun Tomson.
  • It was featured in the Baseball episode The Tenth Inning by Ken Burns.
  • It was featured in the movie Rush.[17]
  • It was used in a US TV commercial for the 2015 Cadillac Escalade (starting during the spring of 2014).
  • It was used in the American Horror Story: Freak Show episode "Pink Cupcakes", along with a cover of "Life on Mars?" by Jessica Lange. It is actually an anachronism, since the plot is set in 1952.
  • It appeared in the movie Foxcatcher in a post-match celebration.[18]
  • It was featured in the pilot episode of Lucifer.

Cover versions[]

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  • James Brown – "Hot (I Need to Be Loved, Loved, Loved)" 7" single (not a cover, strictly speaking, but used identical guitar riffs)
  • Dennis Coffey – "Fame" / Vinyl-LP: "Finger Lickin Good" (1975/USA/Westbound)
  • Duran Duran – 12" single for "Careless Memories"; included on Starman: Rare and Exclusive Versions of 18 Classic David Bowie Songs, CD premium from the March 2003 issue of Uncut magazine
  • Egostatic – .2 Contamination: A Tribute to David Bowie (2006)
  • Eurythmics – Previously unreleased bonus track on 2005 remaster of the album Touch (1983)
  • The FeeliesSomething Wild video
  • FuckEmos – Only Bowie (1995)
  • God Lives UnderwaterUp Off The Floor (2004)
  • Nina Hagen – The chorus in Nina Hagen's song "Heiss" is the vocal part and line "Is it any wonder" from "Fame"
  • Infectious GroovesSarsippius' Ark (1993)
  • Jay Z – "The Takeover" from the album The Blueprint interpolates the "Fame!" vocal
  • Tommy Lee – Featured as "Fame 02" on the album Never a Dull Moment
  • Love and Money – 12" single
  • Dave Matthews Band – Live recording
  • Umphreys McGee – Encore: 30 December 2005
  • George Michael – Performed live at his 1991 Cover to Cover tour.
  • Rie Miyazawa – Japanese lyrics version titled "Game" (1990, 3" CD single)
  • Pearl Jam – Live recording
  • RC – Dr. Dre Presents...The Aftermath (1996)
  • Rikki RockettGlitter 4 Your Soul (2003)
  • The Rockridge Synthesiser Orchestra – Plays David Bowie Classic Trax
  • Stardust – Live performance
  • Stickfigure – Hero: The Main Man Records Tribute to David Bowie (2007)
  • Vanilla IceMind Blowin' (1994) Used a vocal sample.
  • Scott Weiland – Features Paul Oakenfold on Weiland's second solo album "Happy" in Galoshes, released in 2008
  • Lady Gaga – Sampled the beat on the early song "Fancy Pants"
  • The Smashing Pumpkins – Live on 2014 tour, including one performance featuring Ninja of Die Antwoord[19]
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

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"Fame '90"
The single cover shows David Bowie standing in front of a Ziggy-era poster and the words "Fame 90 David Bowie"
Song by David Bowie
from the album Changesbowie
A-side"Fame '90"
Released26 March 1990 (1990-03-26)
Length3:36 (Gass Mix)
  • EMI
  • Rykodisc

"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."[4] 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[20]


Film director Gus Van Sant directed the promotional video for this version, which featured clips from many of Bowie’s previous videos.[20] 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).[21]

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.

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 position
Belgium Singles Chart[22] 22
Holland Singles Chart[22] 16
New Zealand Singles Chart[22] 32
Switzerland Singles Chart[22] 29
UK Singles Chart[23] 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. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. Timothy White's Rock Stars: Hearing Pictures: David Bowie's Sound + Vision (radio interview). 20 May 1990.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "David Bowie Interview". Q magazine: 60–70. April 1990{{inconsistent citations}}CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  5. Isler, Scott (August 1987). "David Bowie Opens Up - A Little". Musician (106): 60–73{{inconsistent citations}}CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  6. " – David Bowie – Fame" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  7. "Archívum – Slágerlisták – MAHASZ" (in Hungarian). Single (track) Top 40 lista. Magyar Hanglemezkiadók Szövetsége. Retrieved 23 January 2016.
  8. " – David Bowie – Fame" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  9. " – David Bowie – Fame". VG-lista. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  10. "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  11. "David Bowie Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  12. "David Bowie Chart History (Hot Rock & Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  13. "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada".
  15. [[[:Template:Certification Cite/URL]] "[[:Template:Certification Cite/Title]]"] Check |url= value (help). Music Canada. Retrieved 24 February 2013. URL–wikilink conflict (help)
  16. [[[:Template:Certification Cite/URL]] "[[:Template:Certification Cite/Title]]"] Check |url= value (help). Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 24 February 2013. URL–wikilink conflict (help) If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  17. 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.
  18. Goss, William (19 May 2014). "Cannes Review: 'Foxcatcher' Wrestles With the Cost of All-American Ambition". Film School Rejects.
  19. Gordon, Jeremy (10 December 2014). "The Smashing Pumpkins and Die Antwoord's Ninja Cover David Bowie's "Fame"". Pitchfork. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  20. 20.0 20.1 "News," Melody Maker magazine, 24 March 1990, page 3
  21. "Rolling Stone Summer Music Guide 1990", Rolling Stone: 3, 1990
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 David Bowie Fame 90 (Song), archived from the original on 12 November 2013, retrieved 11 November 2013 Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)
  23. Official Charts Company - Fame 90, archived from the original on 12 November 2013, retrieved 11 November 2013 Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)


External links[]

  • Fame at AllMusic
  • Template:MusicBrainz work
  • Template:MetroLyrics song

Template:David Bowie singles