Setlist History: David Bowie Debuts 'Fame' on Cher's TV Show

David Bowie debuted what would become his first number one single, "Fame," on this day (11/1) in 1975.

Appearing on Cher's short-lived eponymous TV variety show, Bowie performed the groovy tune as crude '70s tv production effects encircle his stark slicked-back look.

"Fame" was a bitter song about the troubles he had with his previous manager.

Co-written by his longtime guitarist Carlos Alomar and mate John Lennon, the unique hit was Bowie's least favorite track on the Young Americans album, he said in 1990 - the year he re-released a new spin on it with several remixes that included Queen Latifah.

His problem with the song was it brought up bad memories between he and his ex-handler, Tony Defries.

"Fame / "Nein! It's mine!" / Is just his line / To bind your time / it drives you to crime / Fame"

But back to this curious Beatle who can be heard in the background choruses and strumming rhythm guitar: How much did John contribute to the songwriting to earn him a credit?

While Lennon may not have written many of the words or created the unforgettable riff, his aura helped fuel the session, Bowie said.

In an interview he gave in 1980 soon before his tragic murder, Lennon explained that he also suggested some creative ideas to the track.

"I just contributed whatever I contributed, y'know? Like, backwards piano... and a couple of things — repeat of 'Fame,'" Lennon said.

"And then we needed a middle-eight, so we took some Stevie Wonder middle-eight and did it backwards." he explained. "We made a record out of it. So, he got his first number one — so I felt that was, like, a karmic thing, y'know, with me and Elton (John) I got my first number one (with 'Whatever Gets You Through The Night') and I passed it onto Bowie and he got his first number one."

Before Bowie performed "Fame" on the TV show, he sang the title track of "Young Americans" as a duet with Cher. Then they skipped through a medley of a dozen tunes including "Song Sung Blue," "Maybe Baby," and "Day Tripper."

Cher taped her show at CBS Fairfax which is now known as Television City on the corner of Fairfax and Beverly in Hollywood. Studios there today are home of "The Late Late Show" with James Cordon, "The Price is Right," and Bill Maher's talk show "Real Time."

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Last updated: 4 Feb 2023, 11:39 Etc/UTC