On the trail of MSP's Richey Edwards -- Seven years after his disappearance, his parents refuse to declare him dead
Richey Edwards
Credit: Richey Edwards: Steve Double/Retna

The leader of a rock band has disappeared. Suicide is suspected — his abandoned car eventually turns up near a bridge popular with hopeless jumpers — but a body is never found. His family and fans refuse to accept that he’s dead. A legend builds.

It may sound like ”Eddie and the Cruisers,” but it’s the real saga of Manic Street Preachers guitarist Richey Edwards — a story that entered a new chapter last month in Britain. Missing for seven years as of Feb. 1, Edwards can now be declared legally dead under British law — should his family opt to do so. And the legal benchmark has deepened the Manic mystery.

A politically outspoken glam-punk, Edwards, then age 27, was last seen at his London hotel on the eve of an American promo tour. Two weeks later, his silver Vauxhall Cavalier was found at a service station near the Severn Bridge outside Bristol. In his hotel room, authorities found neat bundles of books, photos, and videos — and a note that read simply, ”I love you.” It was also discovered that, in the weeks before he disappeared, he’d withdrawn a total of about $3,000 from the bank. His sister has said that Edwards had been ”obsessed with the perfect disappearance.”

”I reckon he’s alive,” says John Taylor, who has run a Manics website for three years. ”There’s no actual evidence of him killing himself, and the fact that he took [out the cash] could easily help him leave the country and start a new life.” Edwards was also purportedly a fan of J.D. Salinger, the notoriously reclusive writer.

Over the years, the Edwards faithful have been buoyed by rumored Richey sightings — there have been enough to make Elvis jealous. Fans claim they’ve spotted him in India, Mexico, Iceland, and the Canary Islands.