Now might seem an odd time for a flurry of obituaries for someone who was last seen in February 1995. But Richey Edwards of the band the Manic Street Preachers has only now been declared dead.
I think I had heard their sublime song Motorcycle Emptiness, but it took hearing the killer track 4st 7lb on the compilation Really free compilation to draw me into the Manics. They had a profound effect on me. Not only did they rock, but they were ultra intelligent and literary, with lyrics by Richey and Nicky Wire teeming with so many ideas and concepts it seemed a struggle to fit them into the container of the music.
They also courted controversy, claiming they would sell more records then Guns n Roses then break up, got into arguments with other bands, Richey carved the words 4 Real into his arm in front of a music journo.
I went down the fan route of buying cd singles and extended mixes, clipping magazine articles, t-shirts, all that stuff. The Holy Bible is the single most powerful album I’ve ever heard. And I strongly recall the day I went into Echo to pick up some new item when the Manics fan behind the counter said “Have you heard about Richey?” I hadn’t.
Richey seemed like a fragile soul, and in his last months his always slender rock star physique became wraithlike, he shaved his head, and immersed himself too deep in the horrors of which he wrote (especially the Holocaust – a recurrent theme).
You always mistook fists for flowers
Welcome welcome soldier smiling
Funeral march for agony’s last edge
6 million screaming souls
Maybe misery – maybe nothing at all
Lives that wouldn’t have changed a thing
Never counted – never mattered – never be (The intense humming of evil)
The band has carried on, and achieved success without Richey, but he is never forgotten by the band or his fans. The Manics new album will feature his words:
All the songs we are recording are lyrics left to us by Richey. Finally it feels like the right time to use them … It’s a record that celebrates the genius of his words, full of love, anger, intelligence and respect.