Monday, 19 July 2021



David Bowie wrote the song alongside John Lennon and former James Brown guitarist Carlos Alomar. The song would top the Billboard Hot 100 and go down as one of Bowie’s best highlighting that one way to the top is to always take aim above the peak.

‘Fame’ was released in 1975 to quickly become Bowie’s best selling single (to that point) in the US and allow Lennon another chance to rattle the music business. Featuring on Bowie’s Young Americans album, it became the flagship of the album’s sound. It’s a sonic landscape Bowie described as, “the squashed remains of ethnic music as it survives in the age of Muzak rock, written and sung by a white limey”.

With much of the Young Americans sessions already in the can the previous year, Bowie made sure that he found room on the record for the latecomer, 1975’s ‘Fame’, perhaps because of one notable addition to the track. Written over a riff that Carlos Alomar had developed for Bowie’s cover of ‘Footstompin”, but the singer had said it was “a waste” to use it on a cover.

Bowie told Bill DeMain in a 2003 interview: “When we were in the studio with John Lennon, I asked Carlos, ‘What was that riff you had?’ And it went from there.” Lennon then found the notorious hook singing the word “aim” to Alomar’s riff and things were in motion. Bowie seized his chance and changed the lyric to ‘Fame’ and began quickly building out the infamous lyrics of the song.

The lyrics were a pointed arrow of problems the singer had with his previous management, Mainman Management, sharpened by Lennon’s rebellious mind and provocative caustic questioning. He told DeMain, “We’d been talking about management, and it kind of came out of that. He was telling me, ‘You’re being shafted by your present manager’ (laughs). That was basically the line.

He goes on to say that Lennon, in fact, instigated that the Starman “did without managers, and started getting people in to do specific jobs for me, rather than signing myself away to one guy forever.” Bowie continues: “I started to realize that if you’re bright, you kind of know your worth, and if you’re creative, you know what you want to do and where you want to go in that way.”

‘Fame’ acts as a reminder of the real person behind the mythology of David Bowie. Behind the rock star from outer space was a man who was being blindsided by the business side of his work.
"Fame" was one of the best rock songs of all time.



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