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Richey James Edwards


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Richey James Edwards was the rhythm guitarist in Manic Street Preachers, though he barely played guitar; mainly, he wrote lyrics, some of the most poetic and honest from any recent lyricist.


The Manic Street Preachers (Richey, Nicky ‘Wire’ Jones, James Dean Bradfield and Sean Moore) formed in 1989, in South Wales. All 4 members were friends from school, who decided to form a band to alleviate the boredom they felt in their home town.



“Show me your scars you’re so aware, I’m not barbaric I just care.” (Drug Drug Druggy)


They were all highly intelligent and were just as interested in books and politics as they were in music. They decided that they had important things to say in their songs, and the best way to get these messages across was to dress up and be noticed. They wore make-up, tight white jeans and shirts spray-painted with slogans - they were the total opposite of all other bands going on in the early 90s, and it got them noticed!


Richey had started his self-harming in university, in order to help him concentrate on his studies and take away his frustrations in university life. It wasn’t long into the Manics career that Richey’s self-harm became very public; After a gig, Richey was being interviewed by a journalist who didn’t believe in the hype and the band’s image. He didn’t think that they were ‘for real.’ Richey got so frustrated and angry trying to get his point across, that he took out a razor blade, and cut the words ‘4 REAL’ into his arm. Press photographers were present, and took photos, and so the incident has gone down in ‘rock ‘n’ roll mythology.



“When the moment comes, it’s the logical thing to do. It doesn’t hurt, you’re not screaming and shouting. People who harm themselves, be it through anorexia or razors, know what they’re doing.”

However, As the band progressed, Richey’s self-harm got worse. He was anorexic, and weighed under 6st. He was also alcoholic (he drank vodka to ‘help him sleep’), and smoked, often stubbing cigarettes out on his arm. He wrote many lyrics about his self-harm;


“Get some pain and I feel alive.” (Born To End)


“I am an architect, they call me a butcher.” (Faster)


“Stub cigarettes out on my arm...need to feel something of value.” (Roses In The Hospital)


“Such beautiful dignity in self-abuse.” (4st 7lb)


“No-one made the holes but me.” (Removables)


He was also never shy of talking about his self-harm in interviews; “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.”


Around the time of their third album release, ‘The Holy Bible’, Richey had become so ill and depressed, that he was sent to a hospital to recover. “I wasn’t coping very well and I thought my body was probably stronger than it actually was. My mind was quite strong. I pushed my body further than it was meant to go.” The hospital helped him to stop drinking and start eating again, but he still hurt himself.



“When I got home after I cut my arm, I would bump into people in the street and they would say ‘yeah, I did that as well'.”


At one gig in Thailand, he was given a set of knives by a fan, which he then cut his chest with. After a Christmas gig in London, Richey completely destroyed his guitar and he and the rest of the band trashed the stage. That was the last gig he ever played.


Shortly after this, at the end of January 1995, Richey and James were supposed to fly to America, to promote the new album. They were staying in a hotel in London before flying out on 1st February. However, when James called for Richey in the morning, he had disappeared, leaving only a note for a friend, saying ‘I love you’.


Apparently, Richey went back to his flat in Cardiff, where he left his passport and Prozac, but he has never been heard of since. His car was found near the Severn Bridge, prompting suicide theories, but Richey could very well still be alive and living in secret somewhere.



“Can’t shout, can’t scream, I hurt myself to get pain out.” (Yes)


The rest of the band have continued without Richey, and released 2 more albums, ‘Everything Must Go’ (using some of Richey’s lyrics), and ‘This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours’ (completely written by Nicky) - (the albums before Richey’s disappearance are ‘Generation Terrorists’, ‘Gold Against The Soul’ and ‘The Holy Bible’)


Even since Richey has disappeared, his lyrics and words have been comforting to many fans, and his openness about self-harm has certainly brought attention to the issue. Hopefully, he is still out there, and happier than he was.



“I’m a very unviolent person, I’ve never hit anybody in my life. I am prone to extreme violent outbursts, but that’s against myself.”


Taken from http://www.angelfire.com/grrl/glassangel/two/richeyedwards.html

thanks to them for that.


I have to add a story of my own about the man nicknamed Mr Roboto by the roadies.


During the making of 'The Holy Bible' the band visited a concentration camp in Poland (I think). The place was so quiet ( not even insects will live there it seems) that it made Richey uncomfortable. As the realisation that he was walking over the remains of over 100,000 people killed in the camps set in, Richey had a breakdown and had to be carried away in tears.


And before anyone else points it out, yes I know the Manics have released more albums, its an old biography!



So, what do/did you all think to Richey?

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That wasn't richie, that was dre locked up in eminem's basement.


I believe that Richie is in Thailand or somewher similar...


Is it just me, or do you get the feeling that if the 'Generation Terrorist' era manics came across the current manics, they'd have punched their lights out?

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The Generation Terrorist era Manics were (with the exception of James) total wimps. In fact they still are! lol


But I know what you mean, they would have hated themselves, especially Nicky! Him and Richey were the vocal and opinionated ones! Remember Nicky announcing he wanted Micheal Stipe to 'Go the same way as Freddy Mercuary'?

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Nah I get that feeling too... After Everything Must Go it all went south like you said. Wire is quite frankly up his own arse now and the spark that made 'Generation Terroists' and 'The Holy Bible' so vital well it died with 'This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours'.


As for Richie, well to say he was troubled would be an understatement but I hope he isn't dead and that wherever he is he's happy. It goes to show if he wasn't as hurt inside then the Manic's would never have been as great as they where back then and the current state their in proves how great Richie was in a song writing sense.

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Yeah the Manics haven't been the best since Everything Must Go but I thought This is My Truth Tell Me Yours was strong enough. Know Your Enemy was pretty average and a few of the new songs are average although there are a couple of good uns.


The Holy Bible is easily their best record. It's one of my favourites.


The Manics back then would probably hate the Manics now but the Manics back then, despite making good songs, were arseholes. The aforementioned comment by Wire about Michael Stipe was disgusting.


Richey's contribution has really been missed. He was a shit musician but his lyrics were fantastic. I think he is dead.

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I suppose my comment about the manics then and manics now could be applied to a fair few bands / aritsts too, though - how mick n keef of the 60s respond to Sir Mick and Keith of today, for example.


Their personalities aside, I think the music has definitely suffered over the years too. They need to be angry again, not depressed.

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