Miles Woodward was part the original Manic Street Preachers line-up when the band from Blackwood formed in the mid 1980s.
Bass player Miles, 29, left in 1988 when the band decide to take a new mainstream direction.
Now, while his old college friends are making millions from a string of successful albums and their new single If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next is tipped to reach the top of the charts tomorrow, Miles is one of the striking workers at Critchley Labels in Oakdale.
Today he recalls how the band formed and why he decided to leave. He tells how the early gigs ended in violence and arrests and how he thinks he' may have turned to drink or worse if he had stayed with the Manics.
He says he was proud to be part of the band and wishes that he hadn't left, but his biggest regret is that he never sees his old friends, Nicky Wire, Sean Moore or James Dean Bradfield any more.
"They never come and see me. The last time I saw James was three or four years ago."
"I don't know why it bothers me but it does. Maybe success has changed them, maybe they don't know where I live, or maybe they just feel uncomfortable about how much our lives have changed."
He says that despite the band's humble roots, they always knew they were destined for success.
"They were always a proper band, they didn't want to just play workingmen's clubs and have a laugh, they were serious and they were going to make it."
Miles and the band, who rocketed to fame with hits including Design For Life and Australia had been school friends. They formed the Manic Street Preachers one afternoon while students at Cross Keys College.
Miles reveals how he couldn't play a note of the bass guitar he bought on the afternoon the band was formed. His friend James Dean Bradfield taught him the songs' bass lines.
But these days the closest Miles gets to his old band friends is seeing them play on TV.
"It's hard to watch them when they are on Top of the Pops or their video is on television. It's really strange seeing them, it doesn't really sink in."
"It was great being in the group. It was the best time in my life. We were in this band and we were like a gang. It was us against the world and we felt invincible."