Manic Street Preachers
The Manic Street Preachers: James Dean Bradfield (vocals, guitar), Nicky Wire (real name Jones, bass), Sean Moore (drums) and Richey James Edwards (rhythm guitar), were all born at the end of the sixties, in Blackwood, Gwent, a Welsh mining community.
The Manic Street Preachers were all friends from an early age. Sean even moved in with James, his cousin, when his parents split up. They were all keen footballers and frequently played together. Nicky excelled, captaining the Welsh under 16s side and having trials for Arsenal. Sean was the youngest trumpet player in the South Wales Jazz Orchestra. James was into drama. Richey frequently commented on his happy childhood.
After graduating from university, where he studied history (Richey took the same course at the same university), Nicky formed a band called Betty Blue, with James, Sean and a rhythm guitarist called Flicker. However, before they funded their first single - Suicide Alley - by pooling their giros, they changed their name to Manic Street Preachers. Richey wasn't a full member of the band at the time, although he did design the sleeve for the single. The band sent out the record to other bands, hoping to find themselves support slots.
The band became increasingly visible in the media and it wasn't long before they found themselves being courted by the fashionable independent label Heavenly. The band saw the move to a larger label as a natural progression, all part of the master plan and they were duly signed by Jeff Barrett in August 1990. They released two heavily lauded singles on Heavenly - 'Motown Junk' and 'You Love Us' - which further accelerated the growth of their reputation.
Subesquent LPs, 'Gold Against The Soul' (1993) and 'The Holy Bible' (1994) were increasingly bleak and unflinching, especially the latter. In February 1995, the band's guitarist, Richey James went missing on the eve of an American tour.
In January 1995, the band began to rehearse at the House In The Woods studio, in Surrey. They had just entered into negotiations to write the theme tune for Sylvester Stallone's new film, Judge Dredd.
On 23rd January, Richey was interviewed by the japanese magazine, Music Life. It was his last known interview. Nine days later he disappeared from his London hotel as he prepared to fly out to the States for a publicity tour. His car was eventually found at the Aust service station, near the Severn Bridge.
Despite the best efforts of the police, family and friends, the mystery surrounding his disappearance remains unsolved. The case is open, but inactive, at the National Missing Persons Bureau.
Nicky, James and Sean were faced with an incredibly painful and confusing period of their lives. Unsure of their friend and collaborator's fate, and constantly scrutinised by the international media, what course of action should they take?
The decision to continue as a three piece was only made after consulting Richey's parents and Martin Hall.
The band returned as a three piece in 1996. The single, 'A Design For Life' hailed the (vanishing) possibilities of the welfare state, with its opening line, "libraries gave us power". A tremendous ballad, it was awarded an Ivor Novello songwriting award, and reached number two in the UK chart. The album, 'Everything Must Go' captured the tumult of the era and the band's personal situation with much skill.
'Everything Must Go' was voted the year's best album in a host of magazines and music papers.
In February 1997, Manic Street Preachers were voted best band, and 'Everything Must Go', best album, at the 1997 Brit awards.
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