Wednesday, 2 December 2009

My real name is David Jones

David Bowie was just 20 years of age and yet to make a dent in the music scene when, in September of 1967, he received his first piece of fan mail from America. The fan in question was 14-year-old Sandra Dodd, a New Mexico resident whose uncle, a manager of a local radio station, had recently given her a promotional copy of Bowie’s first album. Intrigued, she wrote him a letter, told him that his music was as good as that of The Beatles and offered to start a U.S. fan club on his behalf. Her letter did reach Bowie. In fact, he was so excited to receive such praise from across the Atlantic that he immediately typed out this endearing reply from the office of his manager, Kenneth Pitt.

Transcript follows.

(This letter features in the More Letters of Note book alongside many other fascinating pieces of correspondence -- more info at Books of Note.)


25th., September 1967

Dear Sandra,

When I called in this, my manager's office, a few moments ago I was handed my very first American fan letter - and it was from you. I was so pleased that I had to sit down and type an immediate reply, even though Ken is shouting at me to get on with a script he badly needs. That can wiat (wi-at? That's a new English word which means wait).

I've been waiting for some reaction to the album from American listeners. There were reviews in Billboard and Cash Box, but they were by professional critics and they rarely reflect the opinions of the public. The critics were very flattering however. They even liked the single "Love You Till Tuesday". I've got a copy of the American album and they've printed the picture a little yellow. I'm really not that blond. I think the picture on the back is more 'me'. Hope you like those enclosed.

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.

I hope one day to get to America. My manager tells me lots about it as he has been there many times with other acts he manages. I was watching an old film on TV the other night called "No Down Payment" a great film, but rather depressing if it is a true reflection of The American Way Of Life. However, shortly after that they showed a documentary about Robert Frost the American poet, filmed mainly at his home in Vermont, and that evened the score. I am sure that that is nearer the real America. I made my first movie last week. Just a fifteen minutes short, but it gave me some good experience for a full length deal I have starting in January.

Thankyou for being so kind as to write to me and do please write again and let me know some more about yourself.

Yours sincerely,

(Signed, 'David Bowie')