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"I've Had 22 Years Of Agony" - Daily Mirror, 17th April 2017

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ARTICLES:2017



Title: "I've Had 22 Years Of Agony"
Publication: Daily Mirror
Date: Monday 17th April 2017
Writer: Tom Bryant


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DailyMirror170417.jpg



As the Missing People Choir moved Britain’ Got Talent viewers to tears on Saturday, a 22-year rock mystery was put back in the spotlight.

Among the singers was the sister of Manic Street Preachers star Richey Edwards, whose image appeared on a screen above them as they performed.

The enigmatic guitarist and lyricist vanished in 1995, aged 27, and Rachel still feels the pain every day.

She said: “It doesn’t get any easier. You keep wondering and it’s that not knowing feeling, which is really hard to deal with.”

Richey disappeared after checking out of a London hotel on the eve of a US tour.

Two weeks later, his car was found at a motorway service station near the Severn Bridge – a notorious suicide spot.

Despite numerous appeals, there has been no trace of the star. And as another year passes, Rachel says emotions are still running high, not least as their dad Graham died of cancer in 2012.

She said: “It was so different because I had the privilege of being there at the end for him, even though it was so sad he was robbed of not knowing what happened to my brother.

“I’ve got closure with Dad. His ashes were laid in a garden of remembrance. It’s somewhere you can go and reconcile it all in your mind. You don’t get that when someone goes missing.”

Richard James Edwards was born in 1967 and grew up with Rachel in Blackwood, in the Welsh Valleys. He went to the local comprehensive and then read political history at Swansea University.

He formed the Manics with school pals James Dean Bradfield, Nicky Wire and Sean Moore, and they released debut album Generation Terrorists in 1992.

Gold Against the Soul and The Holy Bible followed, all to critical acclaim.

But Richey struggled with fame and was soon battling demons including acute depression, anorexia and alcohol .

He also had a history of self-harming and carved “4 REAL” into his arm during an interview with NME. Richey had recently left the Priory when he vanished and also had stint at Whitchurch psychiatric hospital in Cardiff.

Sightings have been reported in places including in Goa, India, and the Canaries – but all were dead-ends.

Rachel said: “As time goes on, the trail gets colder. But being a member of the Missing People Choir has really helped me.

"I feel a real connection with them all. It’s helped me knowing there is someone else going through the same thing.”

Rachel said one of the hardest things to come to terms with was when her brother was officially declared dead, in 2008.

She said: “I had to go into the solicitors’ and put my hand on the Bible and declare that I believed he was dead.

“That was surreal. I didn’t really think that. You presume the death to wind up their financial affairs. I hope people don’t think we have given up on him because we haven’t.”

The Manics continued after Richey vanished and have now sold more than 10 million albums.

The first album without him was Everything Must Go in 1996.

Rachel, who still lives in Wales, no longer speaks to the band but the family still get royalties.

She said: “He is still very much part of the band and they have never replaced him.

"After his disappearance, they used some unused lyrics.”

Given Richey’s musical background, it was only natural that she wanted to give the performance of her life when she stepped on to the BGT stage with the choir to perform I Miss You.

Rachel said: “It was emotional. My heart was pounding. Mum was in the audience and she could hear someone saying ‘Oh no, not another choir’.

“But... we are a different kind of choir and to be on BGT has taken it up a huge notch for us. It’s not self-pity for us. We do have a purpose to raise awareness.”

“When I stepped off the stage, I chatted to Ant and Dec. Photographs of our missing loved ones were put up on a screen behind while we sang and they said they had spotted my brother. That was really nice.”

As for the future, Rachel is taking things one step at a time. She added: “Just to be on BGT is totally mad. It’s been amazing and very surreal.”