On June 28, 1975, David Bowie released Fame as a single off of the album Young Americans, it went on to become his first number one hit on the American Billboard Hot 100.
The song was co-written by Bowie’s personal friend John Lennon while music credit went to his guitarist Carlos Alomar. The impromptu session was recorded at Electric Lady Studios in New York City in January 1975 and produced by Harry Maslin on the RCA record label and added to the album last minute. The love Bowie and Lennon had for the old school doo-wop of the 1950s and emerging disco combined to influence their collaboration. The song was also influenced by Shirley & Company’s 1974 hit Shame, Shame, Shame, written by Shirley Robinson.
Both Lennon and Bowie wanted to break free of the cookie-cutter music industry. Their desire to explore other genres and not get taken advantage of was shown in both the song Fame and music each artist produced independently. From a young age, Lennon thought stardom meant freedom but was quickly proven wrong as the Beatles claimed charts. Bowie was quickly gaining popularity but was finding it difficult to work with manager, Tony Defries and Mainman Management. He broke ties with them in 1975. He wanted to stay at the forefront of music and technology, as he became one of the first artists to have a website where he made music available to download.
Lennon was an influential mentor and friend to Bowie both in his musical career and personal life. Bowie came of age listening to newly released Beatles music in the mid-60s, loving Rock n Roll while still finding time for R&B and other related genres of music. They ended up influencing his musical style. His love for Broadway and failure to write a play left a void. Bowie enjoyed creating characters, working them into his albums and tours, the infamous Ziggy Stardust being among them.
On December 8, 1983, the third anniversary of Lennon’s death, and final night of the Serious Moonlight Tour, Bowie treated his audience to an emotional rendition of Imagine following a moving story about their last time together. Before starting the song Bowie said, “The last time I saw Lennon was in Hong Kong. We went to Hong Kong Market, and there was a stall that sold old clothes, and there was a Beatle Jacket on the stall. And I did something that is not usually in my character. I asked him to put it on so I could take a photograph. I took the photograph, I still have the photograph. The jacket doesn’t fit properly. It looks like John had outgrown it.”
The legacy left by David Bowie as a person and performer could not have been as big without his mentor and friend, John Lennon.
If you enjoyed this post and would like to see more, follow me on Twitter: @popculture52
For more information, check out these links: