James Dean Bradfield might be the frontman, but Manic Street Preachers’ bassist Nicky Wire has always been the band’s outspoken mouthpiece. Opinionated, political, self-deprecating and often hilarious, the Welsh wonder has provided us with a career’s worth of genius soundbites: here are 50 of his best.

50 On the Manics’ arrogance…

“We thought we were a million times better than every band.” (TV documentary, 1998).

49 On fan clubs…

“They’re shit.” (Q, October 2008)

48 On grizzled music veterans…

“If Dr John was playing across the road from me I would not go and see him. If I wanted to hear the blues, I’d listen to Liam Gallagher singing.” (NME, August 1998).

47 On milk…

“Full cream milk, I’m addicted to that. Skimmed milk is the lowest of the low.” (Vox, October 1996).

46 On the music press

“The journalists want to create their own little working class playthings to build up and destroy. They don’t understand that working class people can have sensitivity.” (The Guardian, February 1992).

45 On ‘Futurology’…

“It’s ludicrous in its ambition. We’re trying to talk about abstract art movements in a fucking three-minute pop song.”

44 On Welsh history…

“The Irish all went of to North America and became folk heroes. The Welsh went to Patagonia, this bleak, barren place – and half of them died in the first year.” (Q, October 2008).

43 On saying the wrong thing…

“I used to look forward to interviews, use them as an opportunity to make a point, but now they’re an opportunity to fuck up.” (NME, August 1998).

42 On chaotic gigs…

“Last night onstage I really thought that we could have made something happen, started a riot. But it was like looking into the abyss and being really scared of what to do about it.” (NME, April 1994).

41 On Robbie Williams…

“Covering George Michael’s ‘Freedom’? That makes me sick. He said, ‘Right, that’s it, new attitude. I’m back’ – and does a fucking cover version to show he can’t write a song and never could in the fucking first place.” (Vox, October 1996).

40 On not being recognised for ‘Everything Must Go’…

“I was absolutely gutted we didn’t win NME (writers’) album of the year. And they gave it to fucking ‘Odelay’ by Beck. I was really saddened.” (NME, August 1998).

39 On staying relevant…

“These are tough times for guitar bands. We’re on our tenth album, a lot of bands get to their tenth album and they don’t really mean anything, I think luckily enough, we’re still pretty relevant.” (MusicRooms, 2010).

38 On ex-porn star Traci Lords…

“She was probably the most intelligent American we’ve ever met in our lives.” (Blackwood TV, January, 1992).

37 On losing his virginity…

“I was 18. It was a reasonably pleasurable experience, actually. It was one of those slipped-in-by-accident things. And I ended up marrying her.” (Vox, October 1996).

36 On fairweather fans…

“Sometimes it’s just as good to see a bunch of lads wrecked out of their heads, jumping up and down, as it is to see hardcore fans down the front, mouthing every single word.” (Classic Rock, November 1998).

35 On new bands…

“I love Fat White Family for their attitude and they will make a fucking amazing record at some point. You know when you see people and they’re fearless; when you literally don’t care about consequences – kind of like us for the first few years.” (NME, July 2014)

34 On being unpopular…

“We’ve made no friends since we’ve been in a band. Apart from Martin (Hall, ex-manager) and Psycho, my old mate from college, that’s it. And I’m quite happy with that!” (NME, August 1998).

33 On his Welsh roots…

“Where we come from, people spill out of the pub, kick the shit out of each other, smash up their estate, then beat their wife or girlfriend.” (Melody Maker, January 1992).

32 On his ambition for Manic Street Preachers…

“I wanted to be popular, nothing else.” (Spinal Scratch, 1991).

31 On ugly rock hacks…

“Music journalists don’t even look good, I saw Andrew `8 out of 10′ Collins on television and I nearly threw up.” (NME, May 1991).

30 On London…

“In a lot of ways I think London is a complete parasite. It doesn’t produce any bands.” (The Face, September 1998).

29 On never writing love songs…

“We’ll be dead before we have to do that, anyway.” (Snub TV, January 1990).

28 On The Libertines…

“The last band I believed in, for all there raggedness, was The Libertines. They were more than just a band, they were a lifestyle, a mythology.” (NME, September 2010).

27 On cross-dressing…

“I still put the odd dress on, I have to say.” (Kerrang!, 1996).

26 On his disdain for America…

“The only good thing about America is that you killed John Lennon.” (Onstage in New York, 1992).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhyKn1ThpU

25 On Manics fans…

“The bored underclass from shitty little towns, with no sense of worth, attachments or responsibilities.” (Melody Maker, 1992).

24 On fearing death…

“I’d rather live in total misery until I’m 150 than die.” (February 1996).

23 On being shy…

“Every time I go out and there’s more than fucking three people, I feel completely ostracised. I don’t think anybody likes me really. People think I’m a little arrogant but it’s just chronic shyness.” (Q Magazine, 1998).

22 On the band’s early achievements…

“We were at Number 94 in the charts, but everyone had an opinion on us. That was the most brilliant thing we achieved.” (Melody Maker, 1994).

21 On sexual health…

“I’ve had herpes since I was 15.” (NME, 11th May, 1991).

20 On Manic Street Preachers’ importance:

“It’s a fucking powerful entity, this band. It’s a joy, but it’s a weight. It feels like something you can never escape from, sometimes.” (NME, July 2014)

19 On class…

“Class is something you can’t get rid of no matter how you try. When Damon Albarn tried his best to become working class, he couldn’t do it. The classless society is a myth.” (Q, October 2008).

18 On US politics…

“If you’re an American president you’re a cunt. It makes no difference. Bill Clinton is a lovely guy. He has cigars with Bono and Kofi Annan. Does anyone remember Rwanda?” (The Guardian, 2004).

17 On shaking up the status quo…

“We’re going to set fire to ourselves on Top Of The Pops.” (NME, 1992).

16 On his writing partnership with Richey Edwards:

“He was black and I was white. I’m not pretending to be the same kind of lyricist as Richey. I don’t reach the depths of madness and self-hatred that he did”. (Q, February 1996).

15 On band bust-ups…

“I said to James one night, ‘I’m going to leave’, and he went out, got wazzed out of his brain, and couldn’t even fucking remember what I’d said to him.” (Select, November 1998).

14 On obsessive fans…

“There’s a famous incident where Richey got sent knives, you know: “Cut yourself for me”. I felt something was going out of control.” (TV documentary, 1998).

13 On his love of sport…

“I like to think if I’d stuck with cricket I could have been a Welsh Ian Botham.” (The Guardian, August 2007).

12 On ‘selling out’…

“Signing to a major record company is the price of an education. We don’t care what they do to us.” (NME, May 1991).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7eLIRUXRJA

11 On Princess Diana…

“If you’re going to commit suicide, at least do a decent job of it, don’t try five times.” (At a gig, June 1992).

10 On Nick Clegg…

“He is the David Brent of fucking politics. He’s like a bad motivational speaker.” (WalesOnline.co.uk, 2001).

9 On still being a firebrand:

“I’m almost embarrassed at my age to be as angry as I am.” (NME, September 2010).

8 On himself…

“I do consider myself to be something of a pretentious wanker.” (1993).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8szNPgrEs

7 On political apathy…

“The only thing people seem to be arsed about these days is legalising cannabis. That’s what we’ve reached – and what a sad fucking state of affairs.” (Select, November 1998).

6 On earning his place in rock history…

“One thing we always said we wanted to be was the most important rock band of the decade – and I think that’s the one thing we probably have achieved.” (NME, August 1998).

5 On the band’s early preoccupations…

“Depression, suicide, alcohol, that’s what we all found interesting”. (February 1996).

4 On Glastonbury…

“Someone ought to build a bypass over this shithole.” (Onstage at the festival, 1994).

3 On *that* Glastonbury quote…

“It was supposed to be a joke. It was painful but glorious.” (NME, June 2007).

2 On the power of rock and roll…

“What we’ve always wanted to do, is just ignite sparks in people’s minds. We can’t offer a manifesto of how to make your life better.” (Spiral Scratch fanzine, 1991).

1 On seizing the day…

“Where there’s nature, or where there’s breathing, there are true moments of joy. And that’s what I try to do, have moments of elation in life, however small, five minutes a day, and be able to think, ‘Yeah, that’ll do me for now.” (Vox, October, 1996).