by Andrew Burns
In a rare one-to-one interview, Nicky Wire discusses the disappearance of his bandmate and the longevity of the Manic Street Preachers
Manic Street Preachers lyricist and bassist Nicky Wire, an iconic figure in British rock music, has spoke of the pain that still grips him over the mysterious disappearance of Richey Edwards, the former Manics guitarist who went missing in February 1995.
In a candid and revealing Letter To My Younger Self interview, 44-year-old Wire spoke of the mental and physical anguish he endured every day after his friend and bandmate - who was pronounced dead on 23 November 2008 - vanished.
"I still hugely miss Richey and our old manager Philip Hall [who died of cancer in 1993, aged 34]," the Welshman told The Big Issue. "1993 to 1995, from Philip passing away, making the Holy Bible, then Richey - that was a tough time.
"If I could go back I wouldn't do that trip to Thailand [in early 1994, during which Richey cut his chest with a knife before a show]. It seemed like a great rock'n'roll opportunity, but it was proper mayhem, boy-band stuff - 12,000 people turning up for signings. I came back with a psychological and physical bug that took a long time to shake.
"Talking the bad stuff through, that's never been the Manics' way. We tend to handle our problems internally.
"When Richey went missing, I just felt grief and pain. Not just a broken heart but a broken fucking frame of a body. I felt like I was having a heart attack most days. It was horrible.
"Everyone saw the 'loss of a rock'n'roll icon' bit, but there were also his parents, his sister, the loss of a friendship. No one else could ever understand that. The only thing that got us out of that was A Design for Life. We could breathe again."
Reflecting on the Manics' influence and longevity as frontrunners of contemporary rock music in Britain, Wire mused: "The young Manics would be surprised by how long the band has lasted. But not ashamed I don't think.
"If we'd carried on making a load of shit, that would have been different, but we've had some massive highs and lows.
"Yes, at first it was always about the fabulous disaster, we would burn bright and self-destruct. And we did have the brightest of all shining like a beautiful star with us for a while. But we found a way to become another, different band."
You can read Nicky Wire's full Letter To My Younger Self in this week's Big Issue, on sale now
[Originally published: bigissue.com, 10 December 2013]