Kevin Cummins will be showcasing some of his finest, most intimate snaps of the Manic Street Preachers with his Assassinated Beauty exhibition at Proud, Camden from November 7 until January 11. For more information, see Proud.co.uk, but here's a peek at some of the shots – with captions from Cummins himself.
Nicky and Richey, May, 1991 – The Manics' First NME Cover. "I wrote Culture Slut on Nicky and, while I was doing that, Richey was busy in the mirror with a school compass carving HIV into his neck – but because he was doing it in the mirror, it came out backwards. They went out the night before to a club and asked girls to give them lovebites so they’d look even trashier for the picture."
Richey, Wales, 1994."There was a statue in the courtyard of their studio, and I wanted the idea that Richey was holding onto the female form. Nicky and James walked across the background and Nicky shouted "Fucking hell, Richey, you'll do anything to whore yourself to get on the cover of NME." That broke the spell a bit."
Manic Street Preachers, London, June 1993 "Essentially, this was shot on Polaroid –and then you tear the Polaroid off the film and squeegee it onto watercolour paper, so it has the effect of almost being painted. Because of that, the yellow from the background bled onto Richey; it's like a group shot of the other three, but he looks almost 2D and part of the background. A lucky accident."
Richey, London, September 1992. "It summed him up, really: the idea of covering his body with Marilyn Monroe and making him an icon covered with icons was the idea behind it. We used a rubber stamp, and it took about four hours. I also did a similar shot with him with a crucifix, too, but it was probably a bit too much to have Marilyn, Jesus Christ and Richey all in one shot."
Richey, Bangkok, April 1994. "Somebody had given him a set of ceremonial swords and asked him to cut himself. He said 'That's so exhibitionist.' But I went into the dressing room and he'd done it. I asked 'Why've you done that?' and he said 'Because he asked me too'. I was looking for something to mop the blood up, but he went out and played the encore as if nothing had happened."
James, LA, September 1996. "It was the first US tour after Richey had gone missing. It was poignant, photographing them as a three-piece, and I think they found playing awkward too: they'd stand in the same positions they had before and leave a space as if Richey was about to come back onstage. This was taken at a motel, and it was as if James had got lost in his own thoughts."
Assassinated Beauty by Kevin Cummins will run at Proud Camden from November 7 until January 11 (2015). A book of the same name, published by Faber Social is available in hardback and limited editions. For more information see Proud.co.uk.