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    David Bowie – Fame (Live on the Cher Show, 18th September 1975)

    September 18th, 2023 | by Nick

    A new restoration of David Bowie performing Fame on the Cher show, which was recorded on this day 18th of September 1975.

    This fierce, intense performance is surely one of Bowie’s greatest TV appearances. The three Cher Show performances are so contrasting – the fierceness of Fame, and the two duets with Cher – the tender Can You Hear Me, and the showy Young Americans medley.

    The Fame vocal performance is really astonishing in its forcefulness. It is also interesting because it uses a different mix of Fame as backing track for Bowie’s vocal.

    Fame came into being during a one-day session at Electric Lady Studios in New York, in January 1975. It was based on a riff that guitarist Carlos Alomar had developed for Bowie’s cover of “Foot Stomping'” by the Flares. Bowie thought the riff was too good to waste on a cover, and reworked it for a new song. John Lennon, who was in the studio with them, came up with the hook when he started to sing “aim” over the riff, which Bowie turned into “Fame”.

    Bowie would later describe “Fame” as “nasty, angry”, and fully admitted that it was written “with a degree of malice” aimed at his former manager Tony Defries and his management company, MainMan which was haemorrhaging Bowie’s money.

    On September the 20th, two days after recording the Cher show, Fame would be Bowie’s first US No. 1 record. In many ways, Fame was the blueprint for what was to come, and on September the 21st, Bowie reunited with producer Harry Maslin, Carlos Alomar, drummer Dennis Davis, plus guitarist Earl Slick, E-Street band pianist Roy Bittan and George Murray on bass replacing Emir Ksasan, for the start of the Station to Station sessions.

    I’ve been hoping to get hold of a decent quality copy of this episode of the Cher show for many years. So it’s big thanks to Tyler for providing me with one at last.

    There was no in-studio audience for the Cher show, the applause and laughter was all dubbed on in post-production. Using a pre-broadcast production copy of the show, at the end of the performance we can hear the actual people in the CBS studio – presumably technicians etc – applauding Bowie’s performance.

    Nacho, September 2023.

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