Manic Street Preachers are a Welsh rock band who released their debut album ‘Generation Terrorists’ in 1992 and their most recent album, ‘Futurology’, in July 2014. The group originally consisted of James Dean Bradfield (lead vocals and guitar), Nicky Wire (bass guitar, lyrics), Sean Moore (drums) and Richey Edwards (rhythm guitar, lyrics). However, Edwards went missing in February 1995 and the remaining members have continued as a trio since.
The band, who are commonly referred to as The Manics, formed in Oakdale Comprehensive School, South Wales in 1986. In 1990 they released their four-track EP, ‘New Art Riot’, and then signed a deal with Heavenly Records to release their single ‘Motown Junk’. Shortly afterwards, during an interview with NME’s Steve Lamacq, Edwards responded to questions about the band’s sincerity by carving the phrase ‘4REAL’ into his arm with a razor blade; he was treated in hospital and received 17 stitches.
The Manics signed with Columbia Records to release their debut album ‘Generation Terrorists’: the band themselves claimed that the LP would be the “greatest rock album ever” and sell 16 million copies worldwide. Instead, the album sold an estimated 250,000 copies around the world upon its release and peaked at Number 13 on the UK Albums Chart, but it was given a 10/10 review by NME who declared it “nothing short of a modern miracle”. It has since been described by NME as the 18th greatest debut album in the past 50 years.
The band’s second album, ‘Gold Against The Soul’, was released in 1993, while their career-defining masterpiece ‘The Holy Bible’ followed in 1994. NME have described the album, which unflinchingly explores Edwards’ emotional and mental struggles at the time, as a “work of genuine genius” and the 44th Greatest Album Of All Time. The album, however, also reflected on Edwards’ continued problems: by early 1994 he had been admitted to The Priory mental health hospital.
On February 1, 1995, Edwards disappeared: he checked out of the Embassy Hotel in London at 7am and his car was later found abandoned service station near the Severn Bridge. He has not been since and was declared presumed dead on November 23, 2008, by his family. After his disappearance the band considered disbanding but later decided to carry on, although they have kept a percentage of their royalties aside should he ever return.
The band’s fourth album, ‘Everything Must Go’, is considered one of their most triumphant: recorded in the wake of Edwards’ disappearance, it was released in 1996 and became a critical and commercial success, partly due to the popularity of the single ‘A Design For Life’. The band continued their success with their next album, ‘This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours’, which was similarly well-received upon its 1998 release.
Since then, the band have released the albums ‘Know Your Enemy’ (2001), ‘Lifeblood’ (2004) and ‘Send Away The Tigers’ (2007). Their 2009 album ‘Journal For Plague Lovers’, meanwhile, featured lyrics left behind by Edwards before his disappearance, and they released another album, ‘Postcards From A Young Man’, in 2010.
In 2013, Manic Street Preachers released their album ‘Rewind The Film’: a sparser, more acoustic-based record that received a 7/10 review from NME. Less than a year later they released ‘Futurology’, a more experimental and expansive record which has been hailed as one of their finest yet and received an 8/10 review in NME.
In 2008, the Manic Street Preachers received the Godlike Genius Award at the NME Awards.