Manic Street Preachers’ missing guitarist – did he jump or was he pushed?

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Richey Edwards – former guitarist and lyricist for the Welsh rock band Manic Street Preachers – was known for having an air of mystery. On 1st February 1995, he became the centre of a new mystery – his own disappearance…

Known for his eyeliner-heavy ‘Emo’-look, his enigmatic persona and his politically charged lyrics, Richey Edwards was the guitarist who couldn’t play guitar (he mimed during many performances). He struggled with bouts of depression and admitted self-harming with blades and cigarette butts. He also famously carved ‘4 REAL’ into his arm with a razor blade during an interview with NME journalist Steve Lamacq, requiring 15 stitches.

Richey Edwards, with '4 REAL' carved into his arm

Richey Edwards, with ‘4 REAL’ carved into his arm

On February 1st 1995, the day he was due to fly to the US for a Manic Street Preachers promotional tour, Richey checked out of the Embassy Hotel in London and disappeared. He is understood to have withdrawn £200 – so that he now had £2,800 – before driving to his apartment in Cardiff to drop off some things and leaving again. Over the next two weeks, several unconfirmed sightings were made. Richey was supposedly spotted at the passport office and the bus station in Newport, Wales.

Then, on 7th February, a Newport taxi driver picked up a passenger who looked like Richey from the King’s Hotel and drove him around the South Wales Valleys, including Blackwood where Richey used to live. The driver said the journey was “extremely strange”, that the passenger was slim with a gaunt face, was putting on a Cockney accent and asked to lie down on the backseat. He dropped the passenger at the old, now closed Severn View service station – at that point a large and busy stop-off for travellers going over the Severn Bridge – and the passenger paid the £68 fare.

On 14th February, Richey’s Vauxhall Cavalier was given a parking ticket in the car park of the Severn View service station. On 17th February, it was reported as abandoned. Police found that the battery was flat, and there was evidence that the car had been lived in. Burger wrappers and pictures of Richey’s family, taken a month before, were also found.

The original Severn View service station, where Richey's car was found, with the Severn Bridge in the background

The original Severn View service station, where Richey’s car was found, with the Severn Bridge in the background

Did Richey Edwards jump off the Severn Bridge?

The Severn Bridge is known for being a common spot for suicides, and many believed that Richey Edwards took his own life by jumping off the bridge into the River Severn. He was clearly pretty messed up…

Less than a year before his disappearance, Richey went missing for 48 hours in July 1994, reappearing after two days of heavy drinking and self-mutilation in what was thought to be a suicide attempt. He was committed to a psychiatric hospital and missed several gigs and festivals with the rest of the Manic Street Preachers.

On 24th November 1994, after a show in Amsterdam, the band discovered that Richey had cut himself vertically down his chest – the injury needed 36 stitches.

On 1st December, Richey was found by one of his bandmates outside their hotel in Germany, banging his head against the wall repeatedly – with blood all over his face.

The Severn Bridge - a common spot for suicides

The Severn Bridge – a common spot for suicides

Sounds like one seriously disturbed guy. But what raises doubts over the suicide theory is that a lot of people who knew him argued that he was never the type to contemplate suicide. In 1994, Richey also said himself:

“In terms of the ‘S’ word, that does not enter my mind. And it never has done, in terms of an attempt. Because I am stronger than that. I might be a weak person, but I can take pain.”

But if it wasn’t suicide, what happened to Richey Edwards?

Richey Edwards and the New World Order – was he murdered?

Not helping things is the fact that Richey Edwards’ body was never found. It’s not uncommon for bodies to be discovered many years later after people have jumped off the Severn Bridge, but more than 20 years have now passed since Richey Edwards went missing. Still no body.

Where there is mystery, there are conspiracy theories. Some people suggest that Richey Edwards had key information about the New World Order, and was eventually killed for it. New World Order, a conspiracy theory in itself, says that a secret, powerful group is actually in control of the world, or on the verge of taking control. Variations include Satan’s minions secretly pulling the strings of world governments in preparation for the coming of the Antichrist, and the British Royal Family being part of a secret cabal of disguised reptilian aliens.

Some argue that if you study Richey’s lyrics in many Manic Street Preachers’ songs, such as If White America Told The Truth For One Day Its World Would Fall Apart, he is attacking New World Order. They argue that maybe government agents targeted him because the revelations in his lyrics were making them nervous.

Is he still alive?

The most common theory is the Elvis-esque notion that Richey Edwards is still alive. Many discount this as fans wanting him to be alive – just like Elvis and Michael Jackson – and refute all the alleged ‘sightings’. However, since Richey’s body has never been found, the ‘still alive’ theory is much more plausible.

In 1997, a college lecturer claimed to have seen Richey getting on a bus in Goa, India. Then a barmaid claimed to have seen him in a bar in the Canary Islands in 1998; apparently he hotfooted it out of the bar after someone recognised him.

An Oxford University undergraduate also theorised that Richey was hiding in Germany. She said that he went there to visit places significant to the Allied Forces’ liberation of the concentration camps, which he’d studied at Cardiff University.

But all of this is speculation, together with sightings that have never been confirmed. For a long time, his family refused to have him declared legally dead, hoping that one of the leads would prove fruitful. Alas, nothing new came to light and in 2008, Richey was officially declared “presumed dead”.

Despite the conspiracy theories about New World Order and speculations that he might be alive, my feeling is that Richey committed suicide (until substantive new evidence comes to light, of course). He was clearly a screwed up guy; he had pictures of his family in his car; and if we believe this taxi driver, he visited his home town shortly before his final stop at one of the UK’s most renowned suicide locations. Whatever he might’ve said about suicide, his actions, including some horrific self-mutilation incidents, suggest he definitely had the capacity to throw himself from the Severn Bridge in despair.

Having said that, I do have one question. If he was planning to commit suicide, why did he withdraw £2,800?

Next week: The Resurrection conspiracy

Sources: RicheyEdwards.net, Connecting Minds Network, David Icke.com, Wikipedia

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14 thoughts on “Manic Street Preachers’ missing guitarist – did he jump or was he pushed?

  1. He was hounded by too many sychophantic fans,hangers-on types,music biz leeches etc.I seriously think he would hate what the Manics have become today,out-of-touch,multi-millionares with Tory tendencies…so he’s alive alright,but refuses to rejoin the Manics for the aforentioned reason(s).

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  2. Def. committed suiside, or maybe hitched a ride to a far off country. because no body has been found (do all body’s turn up when they’ve jumped from the bridge? If the answer is a yes then maybe he didn’t jump, but when you mutilate your body like he did , then he is capable of jumping.

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    • I suspect that not all bodies are found I guess, and that in his case he’s still there somewhere, or has been washed out to sea. We may never know. Thanks for your comment!

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  3. The one thing that is definite is that he was not killed by agents of New World Order and all that total b.s

    What unbelievable tosh..and he himself would laugh at this.

    He was nowhere near big enough to be a threat to any government. His lyrics were top notch but he was nothing like a subversive. He certainly was an existentialist.

    The song you quoted about America was primarily written by Nicky Wire. Very little in it was Richey’s.

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    • I suspect you’re right and the circumstances of his death are much more innocuous than a big New World Order conspiracy.

      Still, the theories are interesting and I for one would like to know exactly what happened to him!

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      • What happened is a valid question and one that as an old old Manics fan, I once would have loved to know.

        As time has gone on, the urge to know diminishes. He made his decision, a big decision and took the action he wanted. All one wants is that he found his peace.

        I think that after nearly 22 years, no one knows anything means that we will never know until a body is found or he turns up somewhere.

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    • Quite an understandable question Keith and the answer I will give still won’t make any of us dismiss the thoughts of an accomplice.
      I do remember at the time, in 95, that the reason given for the withdrawal of money was that he had purchased an expensive desk of £2,000 (if I am incorrect, I’d be happy to change that). Apparently Richey didn’t like using credit cards so preferred the ‘old fashioned’ way of paying with cash.
      As for the other £800, no reasons were put in the public domain.
      Also, in those days, the one year paper passport still existed (I believe it could only be used to travel in the European area only – happy to be corrected on this). The opportunities for this to be forged is high, so……….he would need to find a forger amongst the ‘underworld’. Something about Richey says to me that he didn’t associate himself with ‘dodgy’ characters, but that is just opinion, not fact.
      I certainly agree with you that travelling to Europe and onto wherever would have been more than feasible especially in those days when we all had freedom to move not under a million CCTV cameras.
      Like Jack the Ripper and Lord Lucan, this mystery won’t ever be answered.

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