by Jo Manning and Wendy Horton
On the fifth anniversary of Richey Edwards' disappearance, Manic Street Preachers fans were today planning to gather in Blackwood, Bristol, and London to pay tribute to their tragic hero.
But followers of the supergroup in Cardiff are urging people to stay away from those who were closest to Richey, viewing their proposed gatherings in the Severn View Services where his car was found, and the Embassy Hotel in London where he was last seen, with disgust.
Steve Burnett, co-organiser of the Manic Street Preachers fan convention in Cardiff University last September, pleaded with fans to stay away.
"I think it is time for fans to stay in and listen to his music and remember how cool he was," he said.
"We should all be respecting his friends and family at a time like this because they are the people who have really lost someone."
The anniversary of Richey's disappearance was today passing quietly for those closest to him.
His parents Graham and Sherry Edwards have continually shied away from speaking publicly about their grief of losing their son in such mysterious circumstances.
And at their home in Blackwood yesterday they were keeping a low profile following a number of requests for an interview from the world's media.
It has been reported that Richey's fellow band members were to mark the occasion quietly with phonecalls.
The father of lead singer James Dean Bradfield told the Echo he didn't know how his son was going to mark the anniversary.
Mr Monty Bradfield said: "James is working on a new album. He is in London, so I don't really know."
Author of the group's biography Simon Price added: "I just hope that when the Edwards' open their curtains in the morning they do not see people wandering around crying - it's the last thing they need."
Internet messages on the three-piece's numerous web sites have called for people to gather in Blackwood today, and Simon fears that fans could turn the town into a morbid tourist spot.
It is not known whether the former Manics' lyricist and guitarist is still alive, although a number of recent sightings have given his family and fans hope.
His parents even made a fruitless journey to Fuerteventura in the Canary Isles in December 1998 to look for Richey after a barmaid thought she saw him in the Underground pub.
Sophie Woodford, spokeswoman for the Missing Person's Bureau, said that Richey's family had kept in constant touch with them over the five years since his disappearance and had always seemed very close.
"On top of losing Richey they have had to put up with people knocking on their door and phoning their house, and they haven't changed the number just in case Richey decides to call."
Steve Burnett urged fans to do something positive in memory of Richey.
"I think they should donate money to the Velindre Hospital in his memory, just like James Dean Bradfield said they should do at the gig in the Millennium Stadium on New Year's Eve." he said.
[Originally published: South Wales Echo, 1 February 2000]