Richey Edwards was a Welsh Musician, and member of the famous rock band Manic Street Preachers. Edwards secured a cult following throughout his career – being praised for his songwriting abilities, and his contributions to the direction of the highly-successful band. Yet Edwards would disappear on February 1st 1995, never to be seen again. He was declared legally dead in late 2008. So, what happened to him? And what is the full story behind the disappearance? Read on to find out more. This article forms this weeks Sunday Read.
We begin with Edwards’ origins in the band. He was originally a driver for the Manic Street Preachers, but eventually became their fourth member. Edwards was known for his imaginative songwriting. One of his most famous actions came in 1991, when, after being questioned by a journalist regarding the direction of the band – Edwards carved ‘4 Real’ into his arm with a razor blade (later requiring eighteen stitches!). Edwards suffered from depression. He was known to self-harm, and spent time at the Priory Clinic in Roehampton, London. Upon release from the clinic, he toured with the band for what would turn out to be the final time.
So how did he disappear? As mentioned earlier, Edwards vanished on February 1st 1995. He had been due to fly with some of the band to the US. Yet he didn’t appear for the flight, and never made it to the US. It transpired that Edwards had withdrawn £200 each day from his bank account in the two weeks leading up to February 1st. This totalled almost £3,000 by the time of his scheduled flight. The last confirmed sighting of Edwards was when he checked out of his hotel at 7am on the morning of February 1st. He left behind a packed suitcase. He travelled to an apartment in Wales, never to be certainly seen again.
However, there were sightings in the days following his disappearance. One fan, unaware that Edwards was missing, spotted him at Newport Bus station. On the 7th February, a Newport taxi driver said he picked up Edwards, before driving him around the local area, including Edwards’ childhood home. The passenger left at Severn View service station, before paying the fare in cash. This sighting then fits in with investigations following theory.
It is believed Edwards had a car at the service station, which he then lived in for a few days. By February 14th, Edwards car was given a parking ticket, before being designated as abandoned by February 17th. Investigators found signs that the car had been lived in for a few days. Tragically, it is believed that Edwards committed suicide at Severn Bridge at some point in mid-February, jumping off the bridge to his death. Severn Bridge was already a well-known suicide spot, and given his close proximity to the bridge, this does appear to be the most likely outcome.
Yet some suggest he wouldn’t have ever considered suicide. In one interview, he suggested suicide ‘didn’t enter his mind’. There have been reported sightings of Edwards in Goa, India, and the Spanish islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. Yet none of these were proven. Unfortunately, a suicide does appear to be the most likely outcome. In the build-up to his disappearance, Edwards reportedly handed a friend a book called ‘Novel with Cocaine’, urging the friend to read the introduction. In the introduction, the author spoke about being in a mental asylum (like the Priory), before ‘vanishing’. Edwards’ mental health too would be likely to be having a highly-detrimental effect on him too.
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Richey Edwards, regardless of his fate, has left an amazing legacy behind. The ninth album from the Manic Street Preachers consisted of songs entirely left behind from Edwards. Up until 2005, his fellow band members paid 25% of royalties into his bank account. The band continues to set up an extra, unmanned microphone at performances in recognition of Edwards. Edwards is also highly-respected in the mental health community – being one of the first to speak about mental health problems in the public eye. His fans still believe he is alive, and several websites are still running in support of Edwards. He would be 50 by now, many believe he is still going strong, somewhere in the world. While a tragic case regardless of the outcome, there is no doubting the legacy Edwards has left behind.