"Fame" is a song recorded by David Bowie, initially released in 1975. It reached Number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 during the week of 20 September 1975.


 [hide*1 Song development

Song development[edit]Edit

With the Young Americans sessions mostly concluded in 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, where he met John Lennon. The pair jammed together, which led to a one-day session at Electric Lady Studios in January 1975. There, Bowie contacted several members of his tour band. First a cover ofThe Beatles’ "Across the Universe" , a Lennon song, was recorded. Then a new song called "Fame", inspired by a guitar riff by Carlos Alomar and with the title from Lennon, was then hurriedly developed by Bowie, Lennon and Alomar and recorded. Both tracks were then added to the Young Americans album. Lennon co-wrote it due to the lyrics (bemoaning the nature of celebrity) being inspired by conversations he had with Bowie on the subject, and because Bowie acknowledged that Lennon singing "Fame!" over Alomar’s guitar riff was the catalyst for the song. Lennon's vocals are also heard singing the repeated words "FAME, FAME, FAME" with his voice heard at fast, normal, and slow playback speeds, until Bowie's vocal is heard singing the final lyrics of the song before the fade.

Bowie would later describe the song as "nasty, angry," and fully admits that the song was written "with a degree of malice" aimed at the Mainman management group he had been working with at the time. In 1990, Bowie reflected that "I'd had very upsetting management problems and a lot of that was built into the song. I've left that 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."[2]

Chart performance[edit]Edit

"Fame" became Bowie's biggest hit to that point in the U.S. 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 seventeen in the UK.

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."[3]

1975 track listing[edit]Edit

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

Charts and certifications[edit]Edit


Chart (1975) Peak


Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[4] 17
Canada (RPM Top Singles) 1
Netherlands (Mega Single Top 100)[5] 6
Norway (VG-lista)[6] 9
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[7] 17
US Billboard Hot 100[8] 1


Region Certification Sales/shipments
Canada (Music Canada)[9] Gold 5,000^
United States (RIAA)[10] Gold 1,000,000^

  • sales figures based on certification alone ^shipments figures based on certification alone xunspecified figures based on certification alone

1975 musicians[edit]Edit



Live versions[edit]Edit

  • A live version recorded on the Heroes tour at the Philadelphia Spectrum, 28–29 April 1978, was released on Stage.
  • A live version recorded in Montreal and in Australia were released on CD/DVD as part of the Glass Spider concert video from Bowie's 1987 Glass Spider Tour
  • An updated version recorded from Bowie's performance at the BBC Radio Theatre, 27 June 2000, was released on Disc 3 of Bowie at the Beeb and on BBC Radio Theater: London 27 June 2000.
  • A live version recorded at the Nassau Coliseum stop on the 1976 Station to Station tour was released as part of the 2010 Station to Station CD and download.

Other releases[edit]Edit

In pop culture[edit]Edit

Cover versions[edit]Edit

Preceded by

"Rhinestone Cowboy" by Glen Campbell "I'm Sorry" / "Calypso" by John Denver

Billboard Hot 100 number-one single

20 September 1975 4 October 1975

Succeeded by

"I'm Sorry" / "Calypso" by John Denver "Bad Blood" by Neil Sedaka

"Fame '90"
Single by David Bowie
from the album Changesbowie
A-side Fame '90
Released 26 March 1990
Format Single
Length 3:36 (Gass Mix)
Label EMI / Rykodisc
David Bowie singles chronology
"Never Let Me Down"


"Fame '90"


"Real Cool World"


"Fame '90"[edit]Edit

remixed version of "Fame" was released by EMI in 1990 to coincide with the Sound+Vision Tour and the release of the Changesbowie compilation. Bowie wanted to remix a successful American single for the tour & album release, and 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."[2]

The "Gass Mix" was also included on the Pretty Woman soundtrack.

Track listing[edit]Edit

Song written by David BowieCarlos 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[12]


Film director Gus Van Sant directed the promotional video for this version, which featured clips from many of Bowie’s previous videos.[12] In the music video, Bowie also performs a dance with Louise Lecavalier, one of the main dancers of the Québécoiscontemporary dance troupe La La La Human Steps (whom Bowie would collaborate with on the Sound + Vision tour).[13]

Other releases[edit]Edit

Chart positions[edit]Edit

Chart Peak position
Belgium Singles Chart 22[14]
Holland Singles Chart 16[14]
New Zealand Singles Chart 32[14]
Switzerland Singles Chart 29[14]
UK Singles Chart 28[15]

God Lives Underwater cover[edit]Edit

Single by God Lives Underwater
Released 1998
Format CD
Genre Industrial rocktechno
Length 3:26
Label A&M
Producer(s) Gary Richards
God Lives Underwater singles chronology
"From Your Mouth"




"Tricked (That's the Way I Like It)"


cover version of "Fame" by the band God Lives Underwater was released in 1998, resulting in significant airplay.

Music video[edit]Edit

God Lives Underwater's "Fame" music video is a video for the remake of Bowie's "Fame" on the soundtrack to the movie 15 minutes.

Track listing[edit]Edit

  1. "Fame" - 3:06
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