CRAVEN’S NOTES: The music mysteries continue
Free Press Music Columnist
Have you ever thought about just… disappearing?
If so, you’d be in wide company. Lots of folks have daydreamed about leaving their day-to-day lives behind, and starting anew somewhere far away.
Is that what happened to Richey Edwards? Or did he choose to end a life which had been characterized by depression, substance abuse and self-mutilation?
If you’re a fan of 1990s alternative rock, you probably know about Richey. As lead singer of the Manic Street Preachers, Edwards was a well-known figure in his native U.K., where the Manic Street Preachers were a popular act combining a leftist punk worldview with glam rock androgyny. But if his initial claim to fame was staked on his music, Edwards’ place in history was cemented by the most mysterious disappearance in the annals of popular music since Glenn Miller vanished somewhere over the English Channel roughly 50 years earlier.
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What we know is that in February 1995, Richey Edwards was in a great deal of emotional pain. He had recently lost an old college friend named Nigel, and his musical idol, Kurt Cobain, to suicide. The band’s manager died from cancer the previous December. Just a few weeks earlier, Edwards had buried Snoopy, a dog he had owned since he was 11 years old. Meanwhile, his drinking had become serious, and he had taken to cutting and burning himself.
On the morning of Feb. 1, Edwards checked out of the London Embassy Hotel and drove away. He reportedly arrived in Wales several hours later. He was next seen on Feb. 5 at a Newport bus station, then, two days later, picked up by a cab driver and driven through various neighborhoods he had known as a child. The driver reported he let Edwards out at the Severn View service station, where Edwards’ car was found abandoned a week later. There were signs that Edwards had been living in the car, and investigators found photos of his family which had been taken in January.
Very circumstantial evidence led police to suspect Edwards had committed suicide by leaping off the nearby Severn Bridge — but during the ensuing years, many people have reported seeing Edwards in various locations as far removed as Goa, India. Bodies which have been found in the Severn River have been tested, and proven not to be his remains. His disappearance was sudden and maddeningly complete.
The same year, Richey Edwards disappeared, another less tragic mystery was raging. Alanis Morissette, the one-time child actress and bubblegum star (hailed as “Canada’s Debbie Gibson”), changed her image and scored a major hit album with “Jagged Little Pill,” her third record and among the earliest hits for Madonna’s Maverick record label.
The album’s sales soared largely on the basis of the song, “You Oughta Know,” which was a scathing — and somewhat off-color — rebuke against a former lover. Like Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” more than two decades earlier, speculation was rife regarding the identity of the man being addressed in “You Oughta Know.” But unlike Simon’s hit, the truth came out pretty quickly. An early news report suggested the song was about Dave Coulier, the sitcom star of “Full House.” And in 2008, Coulier confirmed in an interview that the song was about him. Which just goes to show: Bob Saget hath no fury like a Canadian pop star scorned.
Craven Lovelace is the producer of the Notes Blog & Podcast at http://cravenlovelace.com/notesblog and also writes about popular culture at the Cravenomena blog at http://cravenlovelace.com/cravenblog/. You can also find him on Facebook.
Notes is made possible by Tina Harbin of Real Estate West, the premier resource for all real estate information and services on the Western Slope.
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