Richey Edwards or Richard James Edwards was the beloved of Manic Street Preachers fan. He represented despair, self-harm, refusing to eat, and abstaining from alcohol, all done in the context of a noble ideal rather than for the sake of appearing cool to others.
On 1 February 1995, the Manic Street Preachers had plans to fly to the United States to promote their album The Holy Bible. However, Richard Edwards, the band’s guitarist and lyricist, did not show up. He checked out of the London Embassy Hotel but did not go to the airport. Later, it was discovered that he had driven back to his apartment in Cardiff and left some things behind before driving away
On the first day, it may have seemed normal to his close friends, although there was some worry. But when no one could contact him, everyone began to think about what had been worrying him all along.
The current status of Richey James Edwards is “presumed dead” as the court ordered a change in status from “missing person” to “presumed dead” on 23 November 2008. At the same time, The Manic Street Preachers were working on a new album, using lyrics that Richey had left behind. The album was released the following year under the title Journal For Plague Lovers.
Richey’s younger sister Rachel said that she found it very difficult to go to court and hear the announcement that he was “presumed dead”, as she still deep down thought that there was a chance that her brother might still be alive. “Why do you have to assume that someone has stolen your car if you’re thinking of ending your life?” she firmly believed.
Richard James Edwards, or initially known as Richey James, was born and raised in Blackwood, Wales. He studied history and politics at the University of Wales and had a particular interest in German and Russian politics. His professor, admired him as a determined young man who “didn’t allow his interest in pop music to interfere with his studies.”
Nicky Wire, James Dean Bradfield, and Sean Moore were his school friends from Oakdale Comprehensive School. While Nicky, James, and Sean formed the band Blue Generation then changed to Betty Blue, which later changed its name to Manic Street Preachers.
Richey had planned to become a teacher and was interested in philosophy, society, and politics. He may have enjoyed listening to music and supported his friends in their musical pursuits, but he never intended to play music himself. Richey was known as a driver, a roadie, a graphic designer, a spokesperson on stage, and a lyricist for the band alongside Nicky, and become full member of a band in 1989.
“All I was doing was destroying myself. But to me, the worst thing I did was keep trying to be normal, which is how I ended up in hospital. Now, I wake up in the morning and I know what I want to do – I want to write, it makes me feel better in myselfRichey Edwards
The onset of Richey’s depression occurred around the age of 16 and since then, his image has become familiar to music fans. Disappearance or even the possibility of suicide was not unexpected to fans of The Manics since their first album.
He has often expressed concern about his way of life, such as during his interview with NME magazine on May 15, 1991, when Steve Lamacq asked if The Manics were for real. Richey responded by using a razor blade to carve “4 REAL” into his left forearm, requiring 18 stitches.
It must be acknowledged that Richey’s behaviour, which attracted media attention, played a part in Columbia’s decision to sign them.
The mentality of Richey’s severe aggression escalated continuously during the tour of The Manics in Germany. He began to harm himself more and more consistently, from smoking heavily to scratching his arms, and even drinking heavily. His bandmates eventually sent him for rehabilitation when they returned to England.
When they came to perform in Thailand on 22-23 April 1994, during the show at the MBK Hall on 23 April 1994, the band’s photographer, Kevin Cummins, captured a picture of Richey with scratch marks on his chest. He revealed that some fans had given him a small knife as a gift before the show and had written a note asking Richard to cut himself on stage. At the end of the show, while the other members were still on stage performing “Rain Drop Keep Falling from My Head,” Richey was backstage looking at himself in the mirror, with scratch marks on his chest. Kevin was shocked and asked why he did it. Richard simply replied, “He asked me to do it. I didn’t want to disappoint him.”
The period when The Manics came to Thailand was a clear indication that his condition had worsened significantly, causing concern. He began to exhibit symptoms of anorexia and bulimia, eventually leading to him being sent for rehabilitation once again.
In July, he disappeared for two days, spending his time drinking and self-harming, including attempting suicide. He had to undergo another 10 weeks of rehabilitation. Towards the end of the year, he bought a meat cleaver to chop off his own fingers, but someone intervened and took the cleaver away from him. On November 24, after a performance at the Amway Arena, he cut his own chest and had to be stitched up with 36 needles.
After the release of “The Holy Bible” album on 24 August 1994, Richey’s mental health deteriorated to its lowest point (which could be easily inferred from the album’s lyrics). He had to seek psychiatric treatment at the Priory Hospital and did not participate in promoting the band’s new album with his bandmates or perform with them at the Reading music festival.
on 1 December 1994, Nicky found Richey hiding outside a hotel in Hamburg, Germany, banging his head against the wall and bleeding. The European tour had to be abruptly cancelled.
21 December 1994: Richey performed with the Manics for the last time at London Astoria, which ended with the destruction of musical instruments and the sound system.
In January 1995, Richey withdrew £200 a day from his bank account, totalling £2,800, and also ordered a new table to be delivered to his flat in Cardiff (although it was later reported that he did not pay for it).
14 January 1995: Richey’s younger sister Rachel saw him for the last time, as she followed him to his burial. Snoopy, the dog they had raised together for 17 years, was present.
23 January 1995: , his parents saw him for the last time and on the same day, he gave an interview to the Japanese music magazine, Music Life. In part of his final interview, he said, “All I was doing was destroying myself. But to me, the worst thing I did was keep trying to be normal, which is how I ended up in hospital. Now, I wake up in the morning and I know what I want to do – I want to write, it makes me feel better in myself.” Music Life Interview
31 January 1995: Richey Edwards and James Dean Bradfield stayed at the London Embassy Hotel in London before their scheduled flight to the United States for a tour.
In the final days before his disappearance, Richey gave his friend a copy of the novel “Novel with Cocaine” (1934) by M. Ageyev, which had been translated from Russian. He also urged his friend to read the introduction chapter, which the author wrote before disappearing (this author was quite mysterious and not well-known).
According to Rob Howell’s book, Richey carefully placed the book (which included a play called “Equus”) and a video in a well-decorated box that looked like a gift box and wrote a note on it saying that it was a gift.
On 1st February, Richey checked out of the hotel in early morning and was not seen again. James Dean Bradfield travelled to America, thinking that he would see Richey again soon, but never been found.
On 14th February, someone found their silver Volkswagen Golf abandoned at a service station near the M4 bridge. Some fans claimed to have seen Richard at the bus station in New Port, but at the time, they did not know that he was missing. Another credible witness, a taxi driver named Anthony Peter Hall, said that he picked up Richard from The King’s Hotel in New Port and drove him around town, ending up at Seaview railway station. Richard paid the fare of £68 in cash.
Rachel Elias (His sister) said: “Why would you worry about someone stealing your car if you were chaotically thinking of ending your life?”
In 2018, the court officially declared Richard as a “Presumed Dead.”
Rachel Elias, Richard’s sister who is still searching for him, said that she found some evidence that tells the story of Richard. “We were told that Richard crossed the bridge at 2:55 PM. We found a receipt that stated the time as 2:55 PM. This made us realize that there was an eight-hour gap between the time he left the hotel and the time he crossed the bridge on the same day. However, we have contacted the person who created the payment machine and learned that the clock is on a 24-hour system. So, 2:55 means 2:55 in the morning. Therefore, the person who claimed to have seen him on that day became irrelevant. We hope this will create a new baseline for the investigation because it is important information that changes everything, and everything we thought we knew needs to be revisited.”
For now, we still don’t know what going on? but remembers him as him.