Richard James Edwards

Twenty years ago today Richard James Edwards checked out of a hotel in west London, drove to his home in Wales and was never seen again. His car was found in a service area near the Severn Bridge at a notorious suicide spot.

It was less than six months since the Manic Street Preachers third album, The Holy Bible, had been released. The Holy Bible is one of the heaviest, darkest, bleakest albums that has ever been recorded in any genre of music. Full of self loathing and hatred both for themselves and the world in general, where else can you find an album with subject matter including depression, anorexia and the holocaust rubbing shoulders with songs about serial killers and political correctness. There is the blind fury of tracks like Yes and Of Walking Abortion, the gentle, rose-tinted-spectacle yearning of This Is Yesterday, and the bleak rememberance of Mausoleum and The Intense Humming of Evil.

In hindsight the lyrics and events such as Ritchie carving 4 REAL into his forearm in front of Steve Lamaq show all was not well. There are some intensely personal lyrics on the album, none more so than the autobiographical 4st 7lb... in 1994 only 2.5% of anorexics were male. The whole album is like an extended suicide note. Ritchie's lyrics were angular and oblique poetry and he ripped his soul open, laying himself bare for the world to see. They don't fit easily with the music, which is by far the rawest thing the Manics have ever recorded. A statement and a reaction to the swaggering punk 'n glam rock of Generation Terrorists and the lacklustre sheen of Gold Against The Soul. There are few bands who could have recorded and album like The Holy Bible and in truth there are probably few who would want to bear their souls so agonisingly honestly.

The Manics went on to bigger things but they will never surpass this as their ultimate work of art. The Holy Bible is, in my opinion, a work of pure genius and for all their success they lost something when they lost Richie. The world has been a poorer, duller place without him.

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