Foot Stomping to Fame

I’m picking up (or being reminded of) all sorts of neat trivia in the recent Bowie books I’ve begun reading.

For instance, “Fame” is supposedly based on an old R&B single from 1961, “Foot Stomping, Part 1” by the Flares:

I’ve got to admit that I don’t really hear “Fame” in this track. Perhaps it’s clearer in the Ramrocks’ instrumental take on the b-side of the single:

Nope, I still don’t hear it,

But it is clearly there when Bowie covered the song on The Dick Cavett Show on December 5, 1974:

[I’ve got it cued to “Foot Stomping/I Wish I  Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate,” but it’s worth watching from the beginning; along with a fascinating, even amusing at times, interview, Bowie also performs “1984” and “Young American.”]

The next month, while jamming in the studio with John Lennon, Carlos Alomar’s distinctive guitar riff became the hook for “Fame,” David Bowie’s first #1 single.

This led to the bizarre spectacle of the (very) Thin (very) White Duke on Soul Train on March 1, 1975:

Then the tale got even more twisted when James Brown, one of the most ripped off artists in popular music, himself ripped off Bowie at the end of the year for “Hot (I Need to Be Loved)”:

Adding to the irony, in 1968 Carlos Alomar played in James Brown’s touring band. However, he quit after being fined for a missed cue, so he never got to record with the Godfather of Soul. If, as many believe, Brown simply recorded over Bowie’s backing track, Alomar did finally appear on a James Brown record.*

* Apparently Bowie considered suing Brown for infringement, but since “Hot”‘s sale were not that hot, Bowie never followed through.

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