David Bowie

Fame

Composed by Carlos Alomar / David Bowie / John Lennon

Song Review by

"Fame" was one of two songs slotted at the very last minute onto that year's Young Americans album -- the other was a cover of the Beatles' "Across the Universe." Based upon a riff which guitarist Carlos Alomar appropriated from early-'60s R&B band the Flames' "Footstompin'," and enhanced by a passing John Lennon, "Fame" became David Bowie's first U.S. chart-topper in mid-1975, a hard-funking dance storm whose lyrics -- a hostile riposte on the personal cost of success -- utterly belie the upbeat tempo and feel of the song.

Live, "Fame" retains more of its viciousness, with an especially crucial rendering delivered on the 1987 Glass Spider live video, as Bowie segues from the song into a few moments of Edwin Starr's "War": "Fame! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing." Of course it isn't.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Young Americans 1975 Parlophone / Rhino / Warner Music 4:24
Station to Station 1976 EMI Music Distribution
Stage 1978 EMI Digital / Parlophone / Warner Music 4:03
No Image 1981 RCA
Serious Moonlight [1984] 1984 Pioneer
No Image 1985 Polygram
Glass Spider 1988 Virgin
No Image 1991 Ryko Distribution
The Singles: 1969-1993 1993 Rykodisc 4:16
The Singles Collection 1993 Parlophone 4:14
Soul Train 25th Anniversary Hall of Fame Box Set 1995
Various Artists
Interscope / MCA 4:14
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: The Eleventh Annual Induction Dinner 1996
Various Artists
DPRO
The Ultimate Rock Collection Gold and Platinum, Vol. 3: 1974-1979 1997
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 4:17
The Best of David Bowie 1974/1979 1998 EMI Music Distribution / Parlophone 4:16
Have a Nice Decade: The 70s Pop Culture Box 1998
Various Artists
Rhino 3:47
A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries 1998
Original Soundtrack
CCT 4:18
Millennium Classic Rock Party 1999
Various Artists
Rhino 3:31
Millennium Party [Rhino Box] 1999
Various Artists
Rhino 3:31
Old School Next Friday 2000
Various Artists
Priority Records 4:07
The Singles Collection 1 2000 EMI Music Distribution 4:13
Bowie at the Beeb: The Best of the BBC Radio Sessions 68-72 2000 EMI Music Distribution 4:12
Best of Bowie 2002 EMI Digital / Parlophone 4:15
The Best Pop Album of the 70's...Ever! 2003
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:14
A Reality Tour 2004 Friday Music
The Platinum Collection 2006 Parlophone 4:16
All #1 Hits '70s 2006
Various Artists
Madacy 4:16
Legends: We Will Rock You 2006
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 4:17
Paper Sleeve Box 2007 Disk Union
Legends Informercial Set 2007
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 4:17
Glass Spider [DVD] 2007 EMI Music Distribution
Glass Spider Live 2008 Immortal
Nothing Has Changed 2014 Parlophone 4:16
Who Can I Be Now? (1974-1976) 2016 Parlophone / Warner Music 4:24
No Image 2016 Sony Music 4:16
Live Nassau Coliseum '76 2017 Parlophone / Rhino / Warner Music 4:01
25 Years Of Chrysalis Music
Various Artists
Sony CMG
Day In, Day Out: Radio Broadcast Laser Media / Music Video Distribution 5:37
No Image
Original Soundtrack
WaterTower Music 4:11
blue highlight denotes editor's pick