Billboard #1 Hits: #377: “Fame” David Bowie. September 20, 1975. #1 for 2 weeks in Billboard Hot 100.
- Single: “Fame”- David Bowie
- Record Company- RCA
- Genre: Funk Rock
- Written by David Bowie, Carlos Alomar and John Lennon
- Time: 3:30
- Album- Young Americans
- Grade: A+
- Peaked at #1 2 weeks in Billboard Hot 100. #17 in UK Singles Chart.
“Fame” was written about Bowie and his friend an co-writer of the song- John Lennon’s dissatisfaction with fame and stardom. It is one of four Bowie songs to be listed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their 500 Songs That Shaped Rock And Roll list. Bowie would later say that Lennon was the energy and inspiration for “Fame”- it is speculated that he didn’t really have all that much to do with the songwriting- but enough to give him a co-credit. John Lennon was in his ‘Lost Weekend” period at that time in 1974 when he met Bowie and they came up with the song.
This song is about what it is like to be famous. Bowie gave his thoughts on the subject in a 2003 interview with Performing Songwriter magazine: “Fame itself, of course, doesn’t really afford you anything more than a good seat in a restaurant. That must be pretty well known by now. I’m just amazed how fame is being posited as the be all and end all, and how many of these young kids who are being foisted on the public have been talked into this idea that anything necessary to be famous is all right. It’s a sad state of affairs. However arrogant and ambitious I think we were in my generation, I think the idea was that if you do something really good, you’ll become famous. The emphasis on fame itself is something new. Now it’s, to be famous you should do what it takes, which is not the same thing at all. And it will leave many of them with this empty feeling. Then again, I don’t know if it will, because I think a lot of them are genuinely quite satisfied. I know a couple of personalities over in England who are famous for being famous, basically. They sort of initially came out of the pop world, but they’re quite happy being photographed going everywhere and showing their kids off and this is a career to them. A career of like being there and turning up and saying, ‘Yes it’s me, the famous girl or guy’ (laughs). It’s like, ‘What do you want?’ It’s so Warhol. It’s as vacuous as that. And that to me, is a big worry. I think it’s done dreadful things to the music industry. There’s such a lot of rubbish, drivel out there.”