In March 1975, David Bowie released his ninth album, Young Americans. The album, the follow-up to Diamond Dogs, marked Bowie’s graduation from the glam-rock style that established his fame and saw the singer moving in a more funk and soul-influenced direction.
Young Americans boasted two singles that would go on to become some of Bowie’s most beloved songs: the title-track and “Fame.” The latter, groovy cut — which was co-written by Bowie, John Lennon and guitarist Carlos Alomar — was released as a U.S. single in June 1975 and became the album’s far-and-away hit, earning Bowie his first-ever Billboard No. 1 song.
“Fame” would appear in many of Bowie live sets throughout his long career, and the arrangements would evolve to reflect the artistic era that the singer was in at the time. Late-Seventies versions were often theatrical and dreamy, mid-Eighties takes were dramatically upbeat (and highly choreographed), Nineties renditions were colored with edgy alt and electronic flourishes, while latter-day new-millennium presentations were steeped in gravitas befitting his iconic stature. But the most intense version may very well be when Bowie appeared on Cher’s television show in November 1975.
In that performance, Bowie — suited up with hair aggressively slicked back — sings to a backing track with a steely resolve. No jokes, no banter, just pure power and vocal skill. Watch that above, and after you’ve finished check out some other choice “Fame” performances from throughout the years below.