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Flashback: Manic Street Preachers - The Telegraph, 9th May 2009

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Title: Flashback: Manic Street Preachers
Publication: The Telegraph
Date: Saturday 9th May 2009
Writer: Tim Burrows
Photos: Mitch Ikeda


Nicky Wire of the Manic Street Preachers remembers a homecoming gig, 1993

This picture was taken backstage at the Newport Centre in Wales, before the biggest homecoming gig we had ever done up to that point. There were about 1,800 people there, which was quite a big deal for us then.

We were still a young band: I was 24. It had been quite a struggle recording our second album Gold Against the Soul, which had been released the month before, in June, but we were turning the corner and starting to get a real cult fan base - we are opening fan mail in this picture (I am on the right).

I had been in the same class as James (Dean Bradfield, left) since the first year of primary school in our home town of Blackwood, South Wales, and I used to play football with Richey (Edwards, second right) because he lived by me. Our drummer, Sean (Moore, second left), is James's cousin. James and I used to busk in Cardiff doing Echo and the Bunnymen and Clash songs. A tramp walked past one day and called James a manic street preacher and the name stuck. Richey was our roadie at first but then started to get more involved. When he and I both went to Swansea University he did history. I studied politics and we started writing lyrics together.

By the time we had started work on our next album, The Holy Bible. Richey and I were in very different places. I had got married to Rachel in September 1993, while he was falling deeper into depression. The album is quite bleak there are songs about his anorexia. and titles like Mausoleum. When Richey scratched 4 REAL into his arm during an NME interview in 1991, everybody was shocked. Richey had been harming himself since his school days. He felt it made him stronger, but it got out of hand.

In May 1994 he cut himself on stage in Thailand after a fan sent him a load of knives. More upsetting than the physical harm was that he had stopped communicating with us. When we came back to Britain he was admitted to the Priory suffering from exhaustion and severe weight loss. He was forced to give up one of his last remaining pleasures, drinking, and became more and more withdrawn: I just couldn't reach him any more.

Our last gig with Richey was at the Astoria in December 1994. At the end of the gig we trashed all our gear (Our publicist and manager, Philip Hall, who died from cancer at the age of 34 in December 1993, always encouraged us to do so) It was an orgy of destruction: £26,000 worth of equipment. Richey wasn't the most muscular of guys at that point but he was there as well, smiling and smashing.

The last time we were together. in January 1995, we had a great little session doing demos. Richey went missing a few days later. They found his car parked at a service station near the Severn Bridge. It wasn't until six months afterwards that it started to sink in. but it still doesn't feel like he has gone.

We were in our mid-twenties, so we were pretty young to be ending a promising career. But when James wrote the song A Design for Life later that year we realised that we could keep going and become a different band. It went to number two, as did the album it was on, Everything Must Go.

After our final session Richey gave me a beautiful book of lyrics and artwork. The book has been in my cupboard for 14 years and I haven't found it easy to open. but we decided that it was the right time to use them, for our latest album Journal for Plague Lovers. It was announced that Richey was officially presumed dead last November and his obituary ran in the papers. I am sure it is a psychological flaw but I never got involved in wondering whether he would come back or not. It hasn't been easy without him. but we have found a way to carry on.