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"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.

Bowie Fame.jpg
Single by David Bowie
from the album Young Americans
Released25 July 1975 (1975-07-25)
RecordedElectric Lady Studios, New York City January 1975
Length3:30 (Single Edit)
4:12 (Album Version)
LabelRCA Records
David Bowie singles chronology
"Young Americans"
"Golden Years"

"Never Let Me Down"

"Fame '90"

"Real Cool World"
Tin Machine singles chronology
"Prisoner of Love"
"Fame '90"
"You Belong in Rock n' Roll"
Music video
"Fame '90" on YouTube

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.[3]

Song developmentEdit

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, came up with the hook when he started to sing "aim" over the riff, which Bowie turned into "Fame" and he thereafter wrote the rest of the lyrics to the song.[4]

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"[5] 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."[6]

Chart performanceEdit

"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."[7]

Track listingEdit

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

Charts and certificationsEdit


Live versionsEdit

Other releasesEdit

In popular cultureEdit

Cover versionsEdit

"Fame '90"
Single by David Bowie
from the album Changesbowie
Released26 March 1990 (1990-03-26)
Length3:36 (Gass Mix)
  • EMI
  • Rykodisc
David Bowie singles chronology
"Never Let Me Down"
"Fame '90"
"Real Cool World"

"Fame '90"Edit

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."[6] The "Gass Mix" was subsequently included on the Pretty Woman soundtrack.

Track listingEdit

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[27]


Film director Gus Van Sant directed the promotional video for this version, which featured clips from many of Bowie’s previous videos.[27] 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).[28] The US version of the video replaces some of Bowie's music videos for scenes from the movie Pretty Woman.

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[29].

Other releasesEdit

  • "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 historyEdit

Chart (1990) Peak
Australia 85
Belgian Singles Chart[30] 22
Germany 36
Ireland (IRMA)[31] 11
Dutch Singles Chart[30] 16
New Zealand Singles Chart[30] 32
Swiss Singles Chart[30] 29
UK Singles Chart[32] 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. ^ Elliott, Paul (30 May 2016). "The Top 20 Greatest Funk Rock Songs". Classic Rock Magazine. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 March 2010. Retrieved 2008-01-12. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ Timothy White's Rock Stars: Hearing Pictures: David Bowie's Sound + Vision (radio interview). 20 May 1990.
  5. ^ Pegg 2000, Fame
  6. ^ a b "David Bowie Interview". Q magazine: 60–70. April 1990{{inconsistent citations}}
  7. ^ Isler, Scott (August 1987). "David Bowie Opens Up - A Little". Musician (106): 60–73{{inconsistent citations}}
  8. ^ " – David Bowie – Fame" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  9. ^ "Archívum – Slágerlisták – MAHASZ" (in Hungarian). Single (track) Top 40 lista. Magyar Hanglemezkiadók Szövetsége. Retrieved 23 January 2016.
  10. ^ " – David Bowie – Fame" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  11. ^ " – David Bowie – Fame". VG-lista. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  12. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  13. ^ "David Bowie Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  14. ^ "David Bowie Chart History (Hot Rock Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  15. ^ "David Bowie Fame Chart History". Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  16. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada".
  17. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1975" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Hung Medien. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  18. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1975/Top 100 Songs of 1975". Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  19. ^ "Canadian single certifications – David Bowie – Fame". Music Canada. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  20. ^ "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. 
  21. ^ Altenburg, Ruud. "David Bowie - Illustrated db Discography > Songs: D-F". Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  22. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin (28 August 2013). "Watch: New Clip From 'Rush' Plus Details On The Soundtrack Which Includes David Bowie, Thin Lizzy & Hans Zimmer". IndieWire. Archived from the original on 27 September 2013. Retrieved 22 September 2013. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  23. ^ Goss, William (19 May 2014). "Cannes Review: 'Foxcatcher' Wrestles With the Cost of All-American Ambition". Film School Rejects.
  24. ^ Marotta, Jenna (14 May 2018). "'The House That Jack Built' First Reactions: 'Lars Has Gone Too Far This Time' As 100 People Walk Out — Cannes". IndieWire. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  25. ^ "The Music of SOMETHING WILD | Cinematheque". Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  26. ^ Gordon, Jeremy (10 December 2014). "The Smashing Pumpkins and Die Antwoord's Ninja Cover David Bowie's "Fame"". Pitchfork. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  27. ^ a b "News," Melody Maker magazine, 24 March 1990, page 3
  28. ^ "Rolling Stone Summer Music Guide 1990", Rolling Stone: 3, 1990
  29. ^ dadsvolunteer (31 October 2016). "David Bowie - Fame - Animated Video (Midnight Special)". Retrieved 6 April 2018 – via YouTube.
  30. ^ a b c d David Bowie Fame 90 (Song), archived from the original on 12 November 2013, retrieved 11 November 2013 Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  31. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Fame". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved August 11, 2019.
  32. ^ Official Charts Company - Fame 90, archived from the original on 12 November 2013, retrieved 11 November 2013 Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)


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

External linksEdit