Lady Gaga's Former Manager Recalls Singer's Transformation

'She was painfully shy — very different from who she is now,' Bob Leone says.

Long before there was Lady Gaga, there was Stefani Germanotta, the dark-haired up-and-coming singer/songwriter from New York. Her manager at the time, Bob Leone, knew that girl. And in a new interview, he explains that the brazen, in-your-face performer you see these days was once a shy, unassuming singer who had a hard time even getting onstage.

"She was painfully shy — very different from who she is now," Leone told People.com. "She came to the open mics with her mother twice before she built up the courage to go onstage. ... She was prodigy-like. She was clearly a very good songwriter and keyboard player."

The former director for the Songwriters Hall of Fame, who is auctioning off memorabilia from Gaga's early career, including six CDs of early recordings and a pair of demo discs from her first days as Lady Gaga, worked with Gaga for several years and managed her for six months in 2006.

Leone says that Gaga went through one very important transformation in 2006. "It was a very important six months because going into it, she was Stefani, and she was still writing pop music. By the end of that six-month period, she was officially Lady Gaga."

"She blew everyone away," Leone further recalled of an artist showcase in which Lady Gaga appeared that year. "Nobody talked about anything after that show but Lady Gaga. She bantered with the audience and was very funny. I never noticed that sense of humor when she was Stefani."

And it seems that even four years ago, Gaga knew exactly what she wanted. "Whenever someone asked her, 'what is your goal?' she would always give the same two-word answer: 'world domination,' " he remembered. "She's got it [now]!" he added.