Richey Edwards was that rare person who was famous before he disappeared. Edwards made his name as part of the band Manic Street Preachers. Starting as a roadie for his friends, it was soon apparent they wanted him to be part of the band. They taught him to play the guitar, but it was as a lyricist that his talent shone.
However, his fame was short-lived when he disappeared on 1st February 1995; he was twenty-seven at the time, making him part of the twenty-seven club. Twenty-seven being the age that many talented performers die, the club boasts names such as Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hedrix and Kurt Cobain. Many theories remain as to where Edwards is and if he is still alive. In November 2008, he was declared dead in absentia as he had been missing for seven years. No body has ever been found, so what happened to a quarter of one of the biggest rock bands in the UK?
Making it big
From early life, Edwards suffered from depression, eating disorders and various addiction problems. However, he had been friends with the band as they began to make it in England, starting as a roadie. They invited him into the band as a guitarist, which ignited his passion for music. When the Manic’s started writing their own material, Edwards began to shine, writing classics for the band such as Strip it Down. Eighty per cent of the lyrics produced for the band could be accredited to Edwards.
Having become big business in the UK, like so many bands, the Manic’s wanted to break America. The day after Edward’s disappearance, the band were due to start a promotional tour; many commented that Edwards was not happy about the tour. Ringing his mum on the night of his disappearance, he voiced these concerns.
The night of Edwards disappeared
Both Edwards and fellow band member James Bradfield had booked into the Embassy Hotel in London before their flight. The two bandmates had hung out in the afternoon, playing demo songs for each other in the hotel car park. They then went up to their separate rooms, Edwards occupying room 561. The pair agreed to meet up later to check out the local nightlife.
When Bradfield knocked on Edwards door, later on, Edwards informed him he had changed his mind and preferred a quiet night on his own, before the tour. Little else is known of the night of disappearance except that Edwards had a visitor called Vivian; no one knows who she was or has been able to trace her since that night.
The following day, Bradfield went to wake Edwards but received no answer from the door. He asked the hotel clerk to ring the room and was again met by silence. Finally, Bradfield persuaded the hotel to let him into the room. There he found a full bath, a decorated box of childhood photos and a simple note to his ex-girlfriend that stated, I love you.
The investigation into the disappearance starts
As this investigation into his disappearance started, unusual facts began to come forward. The first was that Edwards had been withdrawing money up to the day of his disappearance. In total, he had amassed three thousand pounds, withdrawing two hundred a day.
Edwards car was then found on the Severn Bridge, a popular spot for those wishing to commit suicide; no body, however, has ever been found. There was clear evidence that he lived in his car for a week after his disappearance; the battery was dead. Questions remain whether the car broke down in this spot, Edwards jumped from the bridge or whether he left the car there to fake a suicide.
Many fans reported seeing him the week after he disappeared; police had not made public knowledge that he was missing, so they never came forward at the time.
An obsession with disappearance
One of the strangest facts was that it was clear that he had always been fascinated with disappearance cases. On examining Edwards teenage diaries there were many references to missing person cases. He was also not the first person within his family to disappear; whether this was what sparked his interest in the unusual subject, or that he wanted to disappear himself is unclear.
Many fans state that Edwards had undiagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism. Due to this, the band became too much for him. Wanting to completely cut himself off from the world, he staged his disappearance and lives happily somewhere away from the media.
Having disappeared without a will, his fortune was transferred to his parents. The Manic Street Preachers always speak about their missing band member. They have never stopped paying him the royalties due to him or recognising his influence on the band. I will never forget seeing the band when I was nineteen, one year before Edwards disappeared.
Richey Edwards is still listed as a missing person, the case remains open and we welcome any information the public have to support with our enquiries. — Metropolitan Police confirmed to WalesOnline.