Fears are growing for the safety of Manic Street Preachers' Richey James, who has been missing since February 1.
As the Maker went to press, there was still no sign of Richey, despite a nationwide search sparked by public appeals made by his father and police in London and South Wales. Richey was last seen leaving the Embassy Hotel in Bayswater Road, London W2, at 7am on February 1. He drove off in his car, which was finally found abandoned near the Severn Bridge on Friday (February 17).
It's thought he briefly returned to his flat in Cardiff before disappearing.
Richey went missing on the day he was due to fly to the States with fellow-Manic, singer/guitarist James Dean Bradfield for a few days' promotional work.
The next day, police say, he was reported missing at 10am by band manager Martin Hall.
On Wednesday, February 15 the police issued appeals for information, and Richey's dad, Graham Edwards, gave an interview to Red Dragon Radio in Cardiff, urging his son to get in touch.
The South Wales Police appeal reads as follows: "Police are anxious to trace Richard James Edwards, aged 28 years, a member of the pop group Manic Street Preachers, who has been missing from the London area since Wednesday 1st February 1995 when he was seen leaving the London Embassy Hotel at 7am. It is known that on the same day, he visited his home in the Cardiff area, and is still believed to be in possession of his silver Vauxhall Cavalier motor car Registration No L519 HKX.
"Richard's family, band members and friends are concerned for his safety and welfare and stress that no pressure would be put on him to return if he does not wish to do. They stress that his privacy will be respected at all times.
"Police are asking anyone who has seen Richard, knows of his whereabouts, or has seen his car, to contact them at Cardiff Central Police Station on 0222 222111, and ask for the Crimedesk or CID office.
"Should Richard himself hear or see this appeal, his family and friends are anxious for him to contact one of them or the police to let them know he is safe and well. They again wish to stress that Richard will not be urged to return or reveal his whereabouts if he does not wish to do so."
The parked car was discovered by Avon and Somerset police at the Severn Bridge service station at Aust - on the English side of the bridge - on February 17. They could not say how long the car had been there, and found nothing inside it to give any indication as to Richey's whereabouts.
Richey is known to have shaved his head a couple of weeks prior to his disappearance, and this fact was mentioned in a description issued by London's Harrow Road police, who have been liaising with Welsh police over the case.
The London police appeal for help described the guitarist as five feet eight, slim with a skinhead haircut, brown eyes and a pale complexion. The description also mentioned his tattoos, including the words, "useless generation" on his left arm, and asked anyone with information to contact the police number on 071-289 5030.
Graham Edwards, Richey's dad, runs a high street hairdressing salon in the small mining town of Blackwood, near Newport, Gwent.
He told Red Dragon Radio interviewer Adrian Masters: "Well, all we know is that he [Richey] left the Embassy Hotel in London on the first of the month and he left without giving any reason, and just sort of disappeared into thin air."
Replying to a reference to Richey's struggles with depression and emotional problems, Mr. Edwards said: "Well, obviously everyone in the family's concerned, and we just want to get in touch with him to know that he is OK...
We've phoned all his friends and all the acquaintances that we can think of... nobody seems to be in touch with him at all."
Not even the band?
"No, no, no. And they're all very concerned also."
Mr. Edwards concluded: "All I'd like say is, Richey, if he's listening, please get in touch, just a phone call or a postcard just to let us know you're alright. If he needs time to be on his own, then that's OK with everybody, but if he does have a problem that we can help with, he'll have strong support from his family and also from his band, Nick, James, and Sean."
The message was reiterated by the Manics' bassist Nicky Wire who was quoted on Ceefax as saying, "If Richey doesn't want come back that's fine. We just want him to give us a call or send a postcard."
A statement issued by the band, also on February 15, said, "Richard's family, the band and management are unavailable for comment, and we would like to ask you to respect their privacy, and for your help and sensitivity in this matter."
On February 16, the Welsh police said that while there was still no news of Richey, they had "no evidence" to suspect that he had come to harm.
After the discovery of the car,the police were said to be "keeping an open mind".
A spokeswoman for the Manics said that their management had been in contact with Richey's family from the day he went missing.
The band had been in rehearsal for a couple of days before that. Richey and James had stayed on at the Embassy hotel, prior to their proposed departure to America for promotional purposes on February 1.
"They were going over for a few days or a week," said their spokeswoman. "Then they were coming back, and the whole band were going back out together on tour."
That American tour was due to start this week, but has now been called off.
Richey's disappearance came to light when he failed to meet James for the trip to the airport.
"There wasn't any huge panic at that point," said the spokeswoman. "It seemed weird, but everybody thought maybe he didn't want to go, or he'd just gone out, or something."
Reports that James went into Richey's hotel room and discovered he had left without any clothes are still unconfirmed.
The police believe that Richey drove from London to his flat in the Docklands area of Cardiff.
According to the band's spokeswoman, Richey's dad went to flat and there found various items, such as his passport, which he was known to have with him in London.
The spokeswoman dismissed as "total rubbish" stories that Richey had argued with the band because he didn't want to go to America, claiming to have an ear infection.
She also denied rumours that Richey had been regularly withdrawing sums of money from the Manics' bank account prior to his disappearance.
She said: "If you were going to go away to America in the morning, you'd probably have a bit of money on you."
Newspaper reports dated February 17 stated that Richey had not used any credit cards since disappearing.
Fears for Richey's safety and fragile health have been heightened by the events of the last seven months.
The extent of his personal problems became public at the beginning of last August when he was taken first to a Cardiff psychiatric hospital, then to a London clinic. According to doctors, he was on the point of anorexia and suffering from "nervous exhaustion".
A week later, rumours suggested that he had slashed himself while in the clinic. These were strenuously denied by his press people, who said that, even from the clinic, Richey was still involved in the artwork, design and marketing aspects of the new Manics album, "The Holy Bible".
During an interview with the Maker later that month to promote the new album, bassist Nicky Wire said: "Richey just reached a point where something clicked. His self-abuse has just escalated so f***ing badly - he's drinking, he's mutilating himself, he's on the verge of anorexia..."
James Dean Bradfield added: "Richey never had as many setbacks as a kid as me, he's more acutely intelligent than me, he's more beautiful than me - and yet he has more problems. Problems that I'd just snip off with f***ing scissors in two seconds flat really get to Richey.
"But he has a very acute perception of things, and you can't lose that perception. It's just a matter of how you channel it. And this is it. It sounds insultingly flippant to say, 'Oh these things happen' or something, but, basically, what is is. We all saw Richey's problems getting to a stage where things were gonna get very nasty, and now he's going to see a psychiatrist and try to nip that in the bud. That's the true story. Those are the facts."
Richey spent just over three weeks in the clinic and returned to Wales halfway through September. He began rehearsing the band in Dyfed for an upcoming French tour with Therapy? and an October headlining tour of the UK.
A source close to the band said that he was "a lot better" but that his treatment was not necessarily over and that the Manics would be "taking things slowly".
Simon Price joined the band on the road in November. Richey had been concerned at how his illness had been portrayed in the media - as if he suddenly flipped out for a month and then was suddenly cured.
"I think that is an assumption that an awful lot of people do make, and it's completely wrong," he said. "That never happens. You don't wake up one morning and say, 'Oh bad day!' And, like, here we go. It is something very gradual, and I don't think you even realise what's really happening. You've got a different perspective on yourself and what's actually going on.
It's fairly difficult to explain. It just comes to a point where your mind thinks it can cope, but maybe your body can't carry on. You can't physically do anything, which is what happens: you actually can't move. And, again, people will think when, the minute you check out, everything's OK, which it's not at all.
"People say, 'How are you?' and if you go, 'Actually I'm f***ing feeling shit', they don't wanna know. So instead, it's, 'Feeling all right, feeling fine.' That's just the way everyone does it, me included."