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David Bowie’s response to his first American fan letter is a glimpse at the man behind the mask.

Chris Ratcliffe/AFP/Getty Images

Before he wholly became the persona known as Bowie, himself a shape-shifter who inhabited a long line of different characters over the course of his career, he was David Jones, an aspiring rock star. In 1967, at the age of 20, following the release of his self-titled debut, he eagerly penned a response to 14-year-old Sandra Dodd of New Mexico, as detailed at the blog Letters of Note. At one point he writes:

In answer to your questions, my real name is David Jones and I don’t have to tell you why I changed it. “Nobody’s going to make a monkey out of you” said my manager. My birthday is January 8th and I guess I’m 5’10”. There is a Fan Club here in England, but if things go well in the States then we’ll have one there I suppose. It’s a little early to even think about it. 

The letter, however, is signed “David Bowie.” Read the whole thing at Letters of Note.