If he were alive, Richey Edwards would be 52 today.
Born in Monmouthshire, Wales, Richard James Edwards was the lyricist, rhythm guitarist, clothes designer of Manic Street Preachers. He was known for his dark, politicised and intellectual songwriting which, combined with enigmatic and eloquent character, has assured him cult status, as well as having been cited by some as a leading lyricist of his generation, leading a movement now known as Cool Cymru.
Edwards was initially a driver and roadie for Manic Street Preachers, but he soon became accepted as the band’s main spokesman and fourth member. Edwards showed little musical talent—his real contribution to the band was in their lyrics and design.
As well as an interest in music, Edwards displayed a love for literature. He chose many of the quotes that appear on Manics record sleeves and would often refer to writers and poets during interviews. This interest in literature has remained integral to the band’s music and lyrics. Albert Camus, Philip Larkin, Yukio Mishima, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Arthur Rimbaud are known to have been among his favourite authors. Edwards’ lyrics have often been of a highly poetic nature and at times they reflected his knowledge of political history.
Edwards suffered severe bouts of depression in his adult life. He also self-harmed, mainly through stubbing cigarettes on his body, and cutting himself.
Edwards disappeared on 1 February 1995, on the day when he and James Dean Bradfield (lead singer and lead guitarist of Manics) were due to fly to the United States on a promotional tour. Edwards went missing without leaving a note, leaving his car beside the Severn Bridge—a notorious suicide spot.
There are many theories relating to Edwards, with many sightings placing him in Goa, India, and on the islands of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, Spain. However, none of these has proved conclusive and none has been confirmed by investigators.
Richey Edwards was declared dead in absentia on 23 November 2008.
Happy birthday and stay beautiful, Richey!
Featured image via Mirror.