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Richey Edwards

On stage, London 1992
Background information
Birth name Richard James Edwards
Also known as Richey James
Born 22 December 1967(1967-12-22)
Died Presumed deceased c.
1 February 1995 (aged 27)[1]
Genres Alternative rock
Occupations Lyricist and Guitarist
Instruments Guitar
Years active 19891995
Labels Sony
Associated acts Manic Street Preachers
Notable instruments
Fender Telecaster Thinline

Richard James Edwards (born 22 December 1967, presumed deceased c. 1 February 1995[1][2]) was a rhythm guitarist and lyricist of the alternative rock band Manic Street Preachers, from Blackwood, Wales. He was known for his politicized and intellectual songwriting which, combined with an enigmatic and eloquent character, has assured him cult status.[3][4] Edwards vanished on 1 February 1995.[5] He was declared presumed deceased in November 2008.[6] The ninth album by the Manic Street Preachers, Journal for Plague Lovers, which was released on 18 May 2009, is comprised entirely of lyrics left behind by Edwards.[7]



Richey Edwards (often referred to during his years with the Manics as Richey James) grew up in Blackwood, where he attended Oakdale Comprehensive. Between 1986-1989 he attended University of Wales, Swansea and graduated with a 2:1 degree in political history. He has one sister named Rachel (born 1969 in Pontypool).

Edwards was initially a driver and roadie for Manic Street Preachers, but he soon became accepted as the band's main spokesman and fourth member. Edwards showed little musical talent - his real contribution to the Manic Street Preachers was in the words and design. More often than not he was miming on the guitar during early live performances, but was, along with bassist Nicky Wire, principal lyricist. Edwards is said to have written approximately 70% of the lyrics on The Holy Bible.[8] Both are credited on all songs written before Edwards' disappearance, with Edwards receiving sole credit on three tracks from the 1996 album Everything Must Go, and co-writing credits on another two. Despite Edwards' lack of musical input, he nevertheless contributed to their overall musical direction, and according to the rest of the band on the Everything Must Go DVD, he played a leading role in deciding the approach of the band's sound. It is possible that had he not disappeared, the album that would have followed The Holy Bible would have been dramatically different from the melodic, accessible rock heard on Everything Must Go, Edwards having expressed a desire to create a concept album described as "Pantera meets Nine Inch Nails meets Screamadelica".[9] However, Bradfield has since expressed doubts over whether the band would have produced such an album: "... I was worried that as chief tune-smith in the band I wasn't actually going to be able to write things that he would have liked. There would have been an impasse in the band for the first time born out of taste..."[10][11][12]

Edwards with 4 Real carved into his arm. The NME discussion as to whether to publish this image was a bonus track on "Suicide Is Painless".

On 15 May 1991, he gained notoriety following an argument with NME journalist Steve Lamacq, who questioned the band's authenticity and values, keen to ensure the punk ethic was not abused, after a gig at the Norwich Arts Centre. Lamacq asked of Edwards' seriousness towards his art, and Edwards responded by carving the words "4 Real" into his forearm with a razor blade he was carrying.[13] The injury required hospitalisation and seventeen stitches.

Edwards suffered severe bouts of depression in his adult life,[14][15] and was open about it in interviews: "If you're hopelessly depressed like I was, then dressing up is just the ultimate escape. When I was young I just wanted to be noticed. Nothing could excite me except attention so I'd dress up as much as I could. Outrage and boredom just go hand in hand."[16]

"Gets to a point where you really can’t operate any more as a human being – you can’t get out of bed, you can’t…make yourself a cup of coffee without something going badly wrong or your body’s too weak to walk."[17]

He also self-harmed, mainly through stubbing cigarettes on his body, and cutting himself ("When I cut myself I feel so much better. All the little things that might have been annoying me suddenly seem so trivial because I'm concentrating on the pain. I'm not a person who can scream and shout so this is my only outlet. It's all done very logically."[18]). His problems with drugs and alcohol were well documented. After the release of the band's third album The Holy Bible, he checked into The Priory psychiatric hospital, missing out on some of the promotional work for the album and forcing the band to appear as a three piece at the Reading Festival and T in the Park.

Following release from the Priory, the Manic Street Preachers as a four-piece band toured Europe with Suede and Therapy? for what was to be the last time. Edwards' final live appearance with the band was at the London Astoria, on the 21 December 1994. The concert ended with the band infamously smashing their equipment and damaging the lighting system, prompted by Edwards' violent destruction of his guitar towards the end of set-closer "You Love Us."[19]


Edwards disappeared on 1 February 1995, on the day that he and James Dean Bradfield were due to fly to the U.S. on a promotional tour.[20] In the two weeks before his disappearance, Edwards withdrew £200 a day from his bank account, which totalled £2800 by the day of the scheduled flight.[21][22] He checked out of the Embassy Hotel in Bayswater Road, London at seven in the morning, and then drove to his apartment in Cardiff, Wales.[21][23] In the two weeks that followed he was apparently spotted in the Newport passport office,[24] and the Newport bus station.[21][25] On 7 February, Anthony Hatherhall, a taxi driver from Newport, supposedly picked up Edwards from the King's Hotel in Newport, and drove him around the valleys, including Blackwood (Edwards’ home as a child). The passenger got off at the Severn View service station and paid the £68 fare in cash.[23][26]

On 14 February, Edwards' Vauxhall Cavalier received a parking ticket at the Severn View service station and on 17 February, the vehicle was reported as abandoned. Police discovered the battery to be flat, with evidence that the car had been lived in.[20][21][27] Due to the service station's proximity to the Severn Bridge (which has been a renowned suicide location in the past)[28] and Edwards' depressed state at the time, it was widely believed that he took his own life by jumping from the bridge.[citation needed] Many people who knew him, however, have said that he was never the type to contemplate suicide and he himself was quoted in 1994 as saying "In terms of the 'S' word, that does not enter my mind. And it never has done, in terms of an attempt. Because I am stronger than that. I might be a weak person, but I can take pain."[29]

Since then he has purportedly been spotted in a hippie market in Goa, India and on the islands of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. There have been other alleged sightings of Edwards, especially in the years immediately following his disappearance.[30] However, none of these has proved conclusive[31] and none has been confirmed by investigators.[32][33]

The investigation itself has received criticism. In his 1999 book Everything (A Book About Manic Street Preachers), Simon Price states that aspects of the investigation were "far from satisfactory". He asserts the police may not have taken Edwards' mental state into account when prioritising his disappearance. Price also records Edwards' sister Rachel as having "hit out at police handling" after CCTV footage was analysed two years after the disappearance.[34] Price records a member of the investigation team as stating "that the idea that you could identify somebody from that is arrant nonsense".[35] While his family had the option of declaring him legally dead from 2002, they had chosen not to for many years, and his status remained open as a missing person, until 23 November 2008,[32][36][37] when he became officially "presumed dead".[38]

In 2009, Rob Janovic's book A Version of Reason: The Search for Richey Edwards of the Manic Street Preachers was published.

A novel by Ben Myers entitled Richard: A Novel is due for publication in late 2010 through Picador. Richard purports to be a fictionalised account of Edwards' life "as he might have told it."[1]

Fan identification

Edward's disappearance garnered a great deal of media attention, with some of it focusing on copycat actions by fans. Caitlin Moran, writing in The Times newspaper, commented that Edwards became "a cause celebre among depressives, alcoholics, anorexics and self-mutilators, because he was the first person in the public eye to talk openly about these subjects, not with swaggering bravado and a subtext of "look how tortured and cool I am", but with humility, sense and, often, bleak humour."[39] Moran dismissed the news agenda of the mainstream media, which was geared towards the idea that Edwards inspired any copycat actions in fans. Pointing towards the 8 April 1995 edition of Melody Maker, Moran wrote of her distaste of the mainstream media treatment: "Arms were flung aloft and tongues tutted two weeks back, when the first anniversary of Kurt Cobain's suicide coincided with the two-month anniversary of Manic Street Preacher Richey Edwards's disappearance, and Melody Maker instigated a debate on escalating teenage depression, self-mutilation and suicide."[39] The magazine had received a number of letters from fans distressed at both the death of Kurt Cobain and the disappearance of Edwards. The 8 April edition saw the publication assemble a panel of readers to discuss the issues related to both cases. Moran argued "that Cobain's actions and, to a greater extent, Richey Edwards's actions, have legitimised debate on these subjects."[39]

The 8 April issue was released in conjunction with the Samaritans,[40] with the then editor Allan Jones placing the inspiration for the special nature of the issue firmly in the hands of the readers: "Every week the mailbag is just full of these letters. Richey's predicament seems to be emblematic of what a lot of people are going through."[41] Jones saw the debate as focusing on the notion of whether "our rock stars [are] more vulnerable these days, and is that vulnerability a reflection of the vulnerability of their audience? And if so, why?"[41]

Literature and other cultural influences

As well as an interest in music, Edwards displayed a love for literature. He chose many of the quotes that appear on Manics records and would often refer to writers and poets during interviews. This interest in literature has remained as integral to the band's appeal as their music. Albert Camus, Philip Larkin, Yukio Mishima and Fyodor Dostoevsky are known to have been amongst his favourite authors.

Edwards often quoted Arthur Rimbaud in interviews as being one of his favourite writers. Edwards also wrote selected quotes of Rimbaud's on his clothing. A famous photograph of Edwards in Paris has the following quote from A Season in Hell written on his back; "Once, I remember well, my life was a feast where all hearts opened and all wines flowed. Alas, the gospel has gone by; suppose damnation were eternal! Then a man who would mutilate himself is well damned, isn't he?"

Edwards' lyrics have often been of a highly poetic nature, particularly on the band's third album The Holy Bible, and at times they reflected his knowledge of political history.

See also


  1. ^ a b On 24th November 2008, it was announced that Edwards' parents had obtained a court order, issued by the Probate Registry of Wales, naming them as executors and stating that he died "on or since" 1 February 1995. Evans, Catherine Mary "Missing Manic Street Preacher Richey Edwards declared legally dead, 13 years on", Nov 24 2008, Western Mail. Accessed on 11 February 2009. Archived on 11 February 2009.
  2. ^ "Richey Edwards". 23 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-22. 
  3. ^ Owen, Paul, "The Manics' Lyrics Were Something Special",The Guardian, 27 Nov 2008
  4. ^ Clash Music, "Manics Member Officially Dead", Clash Music
  5. ^ BBC Wales, "Manic Street Preachers - Richey Edwards",BBC Wales
  6. ^ Evans, "Missing Manic Street Preacher",Western Mail
  7. ^, Journal for Plague Lovers"
  8. ^ Sullivan, Caroline; Bellos, Alex (26 January 1996), "Sweet Exile", The Guardian (Manchester): T.010 
  9. ^ Bailie, Stuart. "The Art of Falling Apart". Mojo (February 2002) .p.85.
  10. ^ Hill, Claire (3 November 2006). "Manics frontman talks of artistic differences with missing Richey". Western Mail (Cardiff). pp. 7. 
  11. ^ Maconie, Stuart "Everything Must Grow Up" Q Magazine October, 1998
  12. ^ O'Connor, Rob (Producer & Director), Bradfield, James Dean (interviewee), Moore, Sean (interviewee), Wire, Nicky (interviewee). (2006-11-06). The Making Of Everything Must Go. [DVD]. Sony BMG. 
  13. ^ Jinman, Richard (1 February 2005). "Fans keep hopes alive for missing Manic". The Guardian. pp. 7.,,1402938,00.html. Retrieved 2007-02-02. 
  14. ^ Leonard, Marion. Gender in the Music Industry (2007), Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p.71. ISBN 0754638626
  15. ^ Young, Andrew & Constable, Nick. "After 13 years, the parents of missing rock star Richey Edwards admit he’s dead". The Daily Mail, 22 November 2008.
  16. ^ Smith, Richard (1995) Seduced and Abandoned: Essays on Gay Men and Popular Music, London: Cassell.
  17. ^ Transcription from the final television interview before his disappearance; video available on YouTube.
  18. ^ BBC Wales article
  19. ^ Boden, Sarah (21 January 2007), "25 of the greatest gigs ever (part 2)", The Observer: 41,,,1992240,00.html 
  20. ^ a b Price (1999), pp. 177-178.
  21. ^ a b c d Beckett, Andy (2 March 1997). "Missing street preacher". The Independent on Sunday. 
  22. ^ Price (1999), p. 178.
  23. ^ a b Price (1999), p. 179.
  24. ^ Price (1999), p. 183.
  25. ^ Price (1999), p. 180.
  26. ^ Bellos, Alex (26 January 1996). "Music: Desperately seeking Richey". The Guardian. pp. T.010. 
  27. ^ BBC staff reporter (1 February 2005). "Ten-year tragedy of missing Manic". BBC. Retrieved 2008-01-30. 
  28. ^ Pidd, Helen. "Richey Edwards case closed: how 14 years of hope ended", The Guardian. 29 November 2008.
  29. ^ The Last Of Richey Edwards?
  30. ^ Sullivan, Caroline (28 January 2000). "The lost boys". The Guardian.,,239956,00.html. Retrieved 2007-02-02. 
  31. ^ Wills, Colin (2 June 1996). "Is Richey the wild rebel of rock alive or dead?". The Sunday Mirror. pp. 62. 
  32. ^ a b Helan, Stephen P. (30 January 2005). "Living With Ghosts". Sunday Herald. pp. 10. 
  33. ^ Price (1999), pp. 183-185.
  34. ^ Price (1999), p. 186.
  35. ^ Price (1999), p. 187.
  36. ^
  37. ^ Jinman, Richard (1 February 2005). "Fans keep hopes alive for missing Manic". The Guardian. pp. 7.,,1402938,00.html. Retrieved 2007-02-02. 
  38. ^ BBC staff reporter (24 November 2008). "Missing guitarist 'presumed dead'". BBC. Retrieved 2008-11-24. 
  39. ^ a b c "Cries that won't go away" The Times (London); 21 April 1995; Caitlin Moran; p. 1
  40. ^ "Pop paper responds to fans' cry of grief;Melody Maker" The Times (London); 22 March 1995; Dalya Alberge; p. 1
  41. ^ a b "Is this music to die for? When the postbag at Melody Maker is opened these days, out pours a bleak littany of angst and agony. Andrew Smith looks at the dangerous, unprecedented trend of young pop music fans identifying closely with the torment of their heroes" The Guardian (Manchester); 31 March 1995; ANDREW SMITH; p. T.002


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