New evidence emerges that Richey Edwards may have faked his own death

It’s the strangest disappearance case in the history of rock. What happened to Richey Edwards of the Manic Street Preachers on February 1, 1995?

Richey had always been the most extreme member of the group. His bizarre behavior was often exacerbated by depression, anorexia, drug use and bouts of self-mutilation. He was also morbidly fascinated with the last days of Kurt Cobain who had taken his own life in April 1994.

Despite several attempts and therapy and rehab plus all kinds of support from his bandmates and friends, nothing seemed to reverse Richey’s downward spiral.

Then it got worse. Richey’s beloved dog died on January 14, 1994, sending him into a deep, deep sadness. He shaved off all his hair and began acting even more strangely than usual, even though he’d stopped drinking.

On January 31, he and James Dean Bradfield from the Preachers checked into the London Embassy Hotel on Bayswater Road across the street from Hyde Park. The purpose was to make preparations for a promotional trip through North America.

At 8:30 pm, James knocked on Richey’s door–room 561–and asked if he wanted to go out. Richey politely declined, saying that he wanted to take a bath.

At some point that day, he also gave a book to a friend, a novel called Novel with Cocaine. He told her to read the introduction in which the author talks about saying in a mental institution before disappearing completely. There was also a carefully wrapped copy of the play Equus with a note address to “Jo” saying “I love you.”

Then there’s a mystery woman known only as Vivian. She was apparently with Rickey for a while in room 561 on January 31, 1995.

Later that night, he called his mother, saying that he wasn’t looking forward to the American promo tour, even though he also conceded that this was part of his job. He said good night and hung up.

That was the last anyone heard from him.

At 7 am on February 1, Richey checked out of the hotel and drive to his home in Cardiff, Wales, leaving behind his suitcase. He dropped off a few things at his apartment, including his bottle of Prozac and his passport, which he left on his desk. Next to that was a receipt from a toll bridge with a time stamp of 2:55 along with 30 pence in change. (It has now come to light that the time stamp indicates 2:55 am, which would put his crossing early in the morning of February 2.)

Then he disappeared.

There were sightings: a passport office in Newport; a taxi driver who picked him up from Newport’s King’s Hotel for a ride around the countryside; the Pontypool railway station. Otherwise, though, the trail was cold.

For the past two weeks, Richey had been withdrawing £200 a day from his bank account. What was that £2,800 for? Obviously, for a hotel stay, some taxi fare and perhaps a train ticket.

On February 14, his Vauxhall Cavalier received a parking ticket outside a service station near the Severn Bridge. The battery was dead, suggestion that someone had been running the radio or the heater for some time.

The general assumption is that Richey took his own life by jumping off the bridge, a well-known suicide spot.

Other than that, though, there were no clues. No body. (A pair of human feet were found downstream from the bridge, but DNA testing proved conclusively that they didn’t belong to Richey.) No concrete motive. What happened to Richey Edwards?

No one knows. There have been Elvis-like sightings in places like Goa, India, and the Canary Islands. None were ever substantiated.

On February 1, 2002, seven years after his disappearance, Rickey was declared legally dead. There was another declaration of “resumed dead” in 2008.

But the bottom line is that no one knows for sure. However...

A new book entitled Withdrawn Traces: Searching for the Truth About Richey Manic by Sara Hawys Roberts and Leon Noakes, claims to have new evidence in the case. Written with the cooperation of Richey’s sister Rachel, the authors had access to all sorts of personal information, much of which seems to have been ignored during the official police investigation.

According to the book, Richey had been most interested in the idea of disappearing completely since he was a kid. He was a fan of Catcher the Rye author J.D. Salinger, a guy who managed to stay off the grid for decades. Clues lead to the possibility of Richey moving to a kibbutz in Israel.

There are people who have never given up looking for Richey. Might this be the breakthrough they’ve been looking for? We’ll see.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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