Fame – David Bowie

THIS DAY IN MUSIC………………………………………on September 20th of 1975 Daivd Bowie had the top tune on Billboard’s singles chart with “Fame”, a song co-written by John Lennon, who can be heard singing near the end of the record. John Lennon helped write this song – he came up with the title and also sang the background “Fame” parts in the high voice. They started working on the song when Bowie invited Lennon to the studio, and Lennon played rhythm guitar on a jam session that resulted in this track. Bowie met Lennon less than a year earlier at a party thrown by Elizabeth Taylor. Lennon was one of Bowie’s idols, and they became good friends. Bowie’s guitarist Carlos Alomar came up with the guitar riff. It was based on a song called “Foot Stompin'” by The Flares, which Bowie had been performing on tour. “In funk music, what you want to do is put down a lot of holes,” Alomar recalled to Mojo magazine of the song’s instrumentation, “leaving a little space for someone to be able to dance in. Lennon played acoustic guitar and we reversed it and that’s the suction sound you hear at the beginning. Then we put up big reverb upon David’s riff,” he continued. “Like going to a recreation centre when it’s empty, taking your amplifier and your guitar – and filling that room.” This was Bowie’s first big hit in America, and also his first to do better in the US than the UK. He had a few UK hits before this, including “Rebel Rebel,” and “Life On Mars.” At the end of this song, “Fame” is repeated 23 times, each “Fame” being a different note. The repetitions of “Fame” span an amazing four octaves. At the time this song was written, Bowie was under contract with MainMan Records and Tony DeFries. Money was mismanaged after several tours, leaving Bowie broke from having to pay back expenses owed. Bowie wrote this song in response to the whole financial ordeal. Not too long after, Bowie fired DeFries at John Lennon’s suggestion. The song peaked at #17 in the UK.