by Hardeep Phull
Kanye West isn't the kind of guy who just throws something on before he leaves the house. Every time he appears in public, the Chicagoan knows all too well that he's likely to get photographed by the paparazzi - and dresses to make a statement.
So when the fashion-conscious rapper (and, lest we forget, Mr. Kim Kardashian) was spotted out in New York over the weekend wearing a camouflage jacket with the image of a pale-looking man named Richey Edwards on the breast, it naturally caused a stir - mainly because very few people in the US know who Edwards is.
But The Post knows all about Kanye's latest fashion inspiration - and it's quite the story. Here are five things you need to know about Edwards.
Edwards was always the smartest guy in the room
Richard James Edwards was a member of the Welsh rock band the Manic Street Preachers, who formed in 1986 around drummer Sean Moore, bass player Nicky Wire and singer James Dean Bradfield. Edwards joined in 1989 as a guitarist, but his musical ability was negligible.
Instead, Edwards was the highly intelligent, impressively articulate and extraordinarily literate spokesperson/lyricist of the group. He was also undoubtedly the biggest heartthrob out of the quartet.
Edwards was '4 Real'
In 1991, Edwards was being interviewed by revered British music weekly NME, and when the journalist questioned the sincerity of the band's politically charged lyrics and sloganeering, Edwards used a razor blade to carve the phrase "4 Real" into his forearm. A gruesome picture taken just after the interview was the image Kanye had on his jacket over the weekend.
His personal problems inspired his lyrics
That penchant for self-mutilation continued in his life, and Edwards suffered from depression and anorexia too. The Manic Street Preachers' third album, "The Holy Bible" (1994), took on a noticeably bleak tone as Edwards channeled his personal experiences into some of the lyrics.
It's widely regarded by fans and critics as one of the best (but most depressing) works in the band's back catalog - if not all time.
Edwards did the ultimate disappearing act
In early 1995, when Edwards and Bradfield were about to set off on a promo tour of the US, Edwards disappeared. His car was found abandoned at a service stop close to the Severn Bridge - a well-known suicide spot. No body was ever recovered, and Edwards was finally presumed dead in 2008. Still, no one knows for sure what happened to him.
Edwards lives on
Now a three-piece, the Manic Street Preachers still tour and record, but out of respect for their former band mate, Edwards' side of the stage remains vacant when they perform. In 2009, they also released the album "Journal for Plague Lovers," which used lyrics left behind by Edwards.
Just this month, the Manics also marked the 20th anniversary of his greatest achievement, "The Holy Bible," by playing the album in full during a tour of the UK and Ireland.
[Originally published: New York Post, 23 December 2014]