Police were last night seeking Richey James, guitarist with the Manic Street Preachers and one of Britain's most iconoclastic pop stars, who has been missing for two weeks.
James, aged 28, has not been seen since he left the Embassy Hotel in London on the morning of February 1, shortly before he was due to fly to the United States for interviews. He is known to have visited his home in Cardiff that day.
Family and friends are concerned for his safety as James has a history of depression. Last year he was admitted to a private hospital for problems including alcoholism and anorexia.
The Manic Street Preachers are one of Britain's best-known cult bands. The foursome, from the former mining town of Blackwood, Gwent, are famous for their nihilistic guitar-based rock music - with titles like Motorcycle Emptiness and Little Baby Nothing - and seen as the authentic voice of alienated British youth. Since their first release in 1991, the Manics - as they are known - have had 14 consecutive top 40 hits, and their first two albums, Generation Terrorists and Gold Against The Soul, each sold more than 100,000 in Britain.
James, the most high-profile member of the band, isdescribed by the music press as one of "pop's great depressives" and a British version of Kurt Cobain, the American singer who committed suicide last year.
He once cut the statement "4 Real" on his arm with a razor in front of a journalist to prove his sincerity.
On stage he cultivated an androgynous image, wearing make-up and women's scarves.
Officers from South Wales police are liaising with Scotland Yard in the search. They believe James has his silver Vauxhall Cavalier, registration L519 HKX, with him.
Fellow band member Nicholas Jones said: "If Richey does not want to come back, then that is fine. But we just want him to give us a call or send us a postcard."