'Ahead of Manic Street Preachers' Dublin show, Barry Egan hails the 20th anniversary of their classic album, 'This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours'
An emaciated manic depressive genius with an eating disorder who yo-yoed in and out of hospitals, Richey Edwards was born on December 22, 1967 in south Wales.
He has been missing since February 1, 1995. On that date, he walked out of the Embassy Hotel in London in the early morning, ahead of his band, Manic Street Preachers' US tour to promote the album The Holy Bible.
On February 17, Richey's L Reg Vauxhall Cavalier was found abandoned at the Severn View service station beside the Severn Bridge, north of Bristol.
In 2014, on Manic Street Preachers' Futurology album there was an extraordinary track called Walk Me To The Bridge.
The band said it was about the Oresund Bridge between Sweden and Denmark. Others, like me, thought it was about another bridge and about someone very close to the band: "Driving slowly to the bridge/ With nothing left that we can give/ We smile at this ugly world/ It never really suited you."
"I know people are going to think this is about Richey," the Manics' lyricist/ bassist Nicky Wire said, "and really Richey's in all our lyrics. But it's not specifically about Richey", he insists, "It's much more about that out-of-body experience where you leave, you get on a bridge, and you arrive somewhere else and your mindset just completely changes".
Richey was legally declared dead in November 2008.
In 2009, the Manics released the bleaker than bleak album, Journal For Plague Lovers with lyrics by Richey.
The song titles told you all you needed to know about Richey's state of mind when he wrote them:
Virginia State Epileptic Colony; Pretension/Repulsion; William's Last Words; Jackie Collins Existential Question Time; Doors Closing Slowly; She Bathed Herself In A Bath Of Bleach.
On the latter, James Dean Bradfield, the band's front man, sings: 'She'd walk on broken glass for love/ She thought burnt skin would please her lover/ To keep love alive and lust beside/ Kind people should never be treated like...'
Nicky Wire was to remark thus of the controversial track: "It reminds me a bit of the play we did in O-Level, An Inspector Calls, when the girl, doesn't she pour bleach, to kill herself, by drinking bleach? A lot of people have been shocked by the title. We just never get shocked by stuff like that. Even when Richey was around, he gave us The Intense Humming Of Evil, a song Richey wrote about one of his obsessions - the Holocaust."
Without Richey Edwards, the Manics' September 1998 masterpiece This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours (the title taken from a speech by Aneurin Bevan, Welsh politician and founder of the NHS) was the band's first album with lyrics written fully by Nicky Wire.
The first single from the album, the political If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next, went to Number One in the UK. As The Quietus website put it, there aren't many better opening lines to a number one single than, "The future teaches you to be alone, the present to be afraid and cold". Or referenced the Spanish Civil War as this did with lines like "If I can shoot rabbits/ then I can shoot fascists" echoing the practical idealism of Welsh volunteers who joined the International Brigades to fight for the Spanish Republic against Franco's military rebels.
Three weeks ago the Welsh firebrands released a three-CD deluxe edition to mark the 20th anniversary edition of This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours; it includes demos and remixes by Massive Attack, David Holmes and Mogwai.