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This Is Yesterday - Black Velvet Magazine, March 2015

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Title: This Is Yesterday
Publication: Black Velvet Magazine
Date: March 2015
Writer: Shari Black Velvet
Photos: Shari Black Velvet

BlackVelvetMagazine March2015.jpg

On Feb 1st it was the 20 year anniversary of the day that Richey Edwards, guitarist and lyricist of Manic Street Preachers, disappeared. Richey checked out of the Embassy Hotel in London and was never seen again - except for a few rumoured sightings. His car was later discovered at the Severn service station.

We'd discovered the Manics at some point in 1992, when a pen-pal at the time (who later wrote her own book about the Manics) sent us a copy of ;Generation Terrorists' on tape. They hit a chord with us and by their tour in October 1992 we'd become huge fans - so went to not one, not two, but three Manics shows - Sheffield, Leicester and Wolverhampton. This was two years before Black Velvet was even born. The band's shows didn't disappoint and we met Richey and all of the guys before and after the shows, outside the venue and when they invited friends and a few fans into their dressing room to say hi. There was something about Richey that was so compelling. Quite possibly it was his intelligence, his knowledge, and his fragility. Maybe also his panda eyes. He was soft-spoken, yet had so much that he could say... and would say when prompted. I remember my friends and I sitting by Richey listening to him talk, almost in awe.

The band's lyrics stood out. They sang about things that others didn't. They didn't write about boring subjects like love, or boyfriend meets girlfriends, this was something more intellectual. Who else has a song called 'Natwest-Barclays-Midlands-Lloyds' with lyrics about the 'blackhorse apocalypse'? Who name checked the likes of Yeltsin, Zhirinovsky and Le Pen? 'The Holy Bible' got more personal and included songs about anorexia - in the form of '4st 7lb'. Richey had become too concerned with his own weight and lost a lot of weight himself, trying to become the perfect ideal, while giving James lyrics to sing that included 'I wanna be so skinny that I rot from view'. It was obvious that Richey was unhappy with himself.

I saw the band again in 1993 when they supported Bon Jovi for two nights at Milton Keynes Bowl. I was probably one of the few Bon Jovi fans who actually really loved the Manics and was ecstatic they were on the bill. I sang along to their songs in the crowd, while everyone else was just waiting for Little Angels to be up next. But for some reason after that I didn't go to any other of their shows until after Richey had gone missing. I gained a boyfriend and lost touch of their tours and goings-on. In hind-sight, I regret that I remember when the news of his disappearance was on the TV. It was out of the blue and I was shocked. But it was also less than a year after Kurt Cobain's death, so there was also something about it that almost seemed to fit. It was also after Richey's dog, Snoopy, had died. The Manics' manager, Philip Hall, had also lost his life.

Looking back, Richey was no doubt going through an awful time. He self-harmed, was unhappy and had entered The Priory mental health hospital. I remember reading about fans who had given Richey knives to cut him-self. Awful. Why would someone even do that? (Give the knives, not self-harm).

One thing we will say is that if you ever feel like Richey did, please don't give up. A lot of young people have problems, feel like they can't cope, hate themselves, we get in relationships and then go through heartbreak, we clash with our parents, have feelings of failure, whether at school or in life after-wards. But things always get better. Everything improves, even if you think it won't. Life does get better.

I really hope that Richey didn't end his life. I hope he's out there somewhere. Our thoughts go out to his sister Rachel and mother Sherry who have had to spend the last 20 years not knowing. We were sad to read that his father, Graham, passed away in 2012 - he passed away without ever discovering what became of his son. We'd love one day for a sighting of him to be true. For him to really be... for real. Whether this happens or not, he has left an amazing legacy. The early Manics' songs have many qualities which other songs lack. Depth, beauty, thought, passion, fire. This is Richey to a T. This is yesterday, and this is forever.