Picking up on what Danny said, some thoughts on fame. Stewart Lee’s answer gets it right, I think: fame enough to be financially comfortable and comfortable with one’s audience. The further question is whether that’s only achievable — or only recognisible in a way that brings the associated comfort — on the downslope, after you’ve tasted celebrity — and celebrity, in turn, has spit you out.
Fame has frontiers, and some you only notice when you return. There’s only a step between a comfortable, loyal fanbase and, well, this.
But I mostly wonder what happens ‘after’ fame. Not many of the bands and artists whose careers I followed (and, I suppose, helped sustain) in those formative college years are still around. The first thought is of a quiet retirement living off the royalties, perhaps a production job or similar to keep busy. But then you realise: that only happens to a few former popstrels after they put away the bleach and bad outfits. For those earnest indie types I came to love, if there was any money left at the end, it was barely enough to pay the rent, let alone relax by the pool. And that’s okay, in its own way, as long as you park the tour bus and pack away your gear knowing that the rest of your life is waiting.
Stephen Fry (now, more or less, the best blogger ever) talks expansively about what fame is. What fame was, though, is another thing entirely.