From the Heart of South Wales: Manic Street Preachers

today15 March 2024 27

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What Do We Know?

South Wales is, and continues to be, the home country for so many promising artists and this band is one of the more famous ones. Formed in Blackwood in 1986, Manic Street Preachers are a rock band that originally consisted of four members though this would change more than expected throughout their career.

The origin of the band’s name remains unclear, but the story is often told that their lead vocalist James Dean Bradfield got into an altercation with an unknown man while busking on the streets of Cardiff who asked if he was “some kind of manic street preacher”.

In the band’s early years, Bradfield and Sean Moore wrote the band’s music while Nicky Wire focused on the lyrics. Their original bassist Miles Woodward left in 1988, believing that the band were moving away from their punk roots, but he was soon replaced by rhythm guitarist Richey Edwards after the release of debut single “Suicide Alley”. Their early albums were in the vein of punk, but broadened into the realms of alternative rock.

They built an image for themselves in androgynous glam imagery, their leftist political views combined with lyrics that were heavy on culture and alienation attracting a large following of loyal fans.

Their debut album, “Generation Terrorists,” hit the shelves in February 1992, followed by two subsequent releases. However, tragedy struck in 1995 when Richey Edwards vanished without a trace, his fate remaining a mystery until he was officially presumed deceased in 2008.

Despite the shadow cast by this heartbreaking loss and the fact the tragedy still slightly taints their history, they still made a name for themselves in the music industry, and have headlined several music festivals including Glastonbury and Reading – and that’s without even mentioning the numerous awards the Manics won through their career.

Even despite their success, the main reason I’m choosing to write about them here is that they’re one of the few bands that don’t forget their roots. They came from a small town and acknowledge that, a prime example being how just a couple of months ago James Dean Bradfield was a surprise guest at a birthday gig for his cousin Steve Mayo, appearing to cover some songs at a small venue in Crumlin. 

I personally find it inspirational how the Manics still hold a special place in their hearts for the valleys despite being so famous internationally, and I’m sure many budding musicians who live in this area feel the same!

Written by: Aimee Smith

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