The band, which was origanally named Betty Blue (after the english title of French film 37°2 le matin) was formed in 1986. The original members were: James Dean Bradfield, lead guitarist, Flicker bass guitarist, Sean Moore, drumer, and Nicky Wire (whose real name is Nicholas Jones) rhythmn guitarist. For a short period Jenny Watkins_Israndi joined the group as a singer, but left after a few months to be replaced by James as singer. During this time James had tried writing lyrics but he gave up and Nicky wrote all their lyrics.
In 1988, Flicker left the band and they would become a three piece. Nicky switched from rhythmn guitar to bass guitar. They recorded their forst single, Suicide Alley in 1988. Shortly after this they were joined on rythmn guitar by Richey James, who joined Nicky in writing lyrics (seen as stunning by many fans and critics) but whose guitar playing was never seen as adaquate. His one recorded contribution is apparently ONE chord during La Tristesse Durera, a single off Gold Against The Soul).
Their first recording was Suicide Alley (1988). Touring and releasing an EP and a few more singles, the Manic Street Preachers earned a wild reputation for their outrageous claims. In music press interviews they attacked the indie press darlings of the day such as shoegazing bands such as Chapterhouse and Slowdive as well as Carter USM and Senseless Things. They claimed that they would release one album that would outsell Appetite For Destruction, tour the world, headline Wembley for three nights and then split up. These statements enraged New Musical Express journalist Steve Lamacque. When Lamaque questioned the bands sincerity in an interview, Richey carved the words "4 Real" into his arm with a razor blade. Shortly afterwards the band signed to Sony Records.
Their debut LP for Sony was Generation Terrorists.The fusion of Clash style politics and Slash style riffing was a hit with British audiences, yielding classics like Motorcycle Emptiness and Stay Beautiful. Generation Terrorists boasted quotes by various famous literary figures (for instance Albert Camus, Sylvia Plath, George Orwell, and Chuck D) in its gatefold sleeve, leading some critics to decry them as pretentious.
Their fame continued to grow in spite of the mixed reviews for the next album, Gold Against the Soul. The sound of this album was more polished than the slightly murky production of Generation Terrorists. Internal problems began to tear the band apart, with Richey's self-mutilation, anorexia, alcoholism and other problems leading to his admittance into The Priory, a private mental clinic. The group's next album was The Holy Bible, which regained their critical acclaim and sold well. By now the Manics had shed their 1980s rock influences and had started to display a much darker guitar sound, complementing the horrors of Richey's lyrics - it was clear that he was not in a very sound state of mind.
Not long after, in February of 1995, Richey disappeared from Cardiff, Wales. His car was found abandoned at the nearby Severn bridge service station. He has never been seen again, although sightings have been common. Nonetheless, Richey retains a special place in many fans' hearts.
Defying expectations, the Manic Street Preachers returned with Everything Must Go, another hit album with bassist Nicky Wire becoming sole lyricist (although the album did contain four lyrics co written by Richey]]. The new songs included the number two hit single A Design For Life, which helped bring the band major mainstream success in Britain; they had become superstars.
1998's This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours was just as successful across most of the world, giving the band a number one single - If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next, inspired bySpanish Civil War (in equal parts George Orwell's Homage To Catalonia and The Clash's Spanish Bombs. The accompanying music video is regarded by many as one of the finest ever made.
In 2000 they released the limited edition single Masses Against The Classes. Despite receiving little to no promotion, the record hit the #1 position on the British Singles chart. The record was a return to their more rock based roots and was well accepted by their old fans.
In 2001 they became the first western rock band to play in Cuba and met president Fidel Castro, who declared that their concert was "Louder than War" (a title they used on a DVD of the Cuban trip). Many criticised the band because of Cuba's human rights record but Nicky claimed that although it wasn't perfect, it was still the closest any society had got to socialism.
In this concert they revealed many tracks from their sixth album Know your Enemy. Musically the most eclectic of their career, the album did not chart as high as recent albums by the band.
The greatest hits album Forever Delayed was released in 2002. It was controversial with fans who claimed that it did not reflect the band's greatest songs but instead only featured the songs that charted well (although a look at the chart entries for singles included and excluded reveals that this is not completely true either).
An album of B-sides, rarities, and cover versions album was released in 2003 - Lipstick Traces (A Secret History To the Manic Street Preachers. The album included the last song that was ever recorded while Richey was still in the band, the previously unreleased Judge Yr'self that was intended to feature on the Judge Dredd movie soundtrack. The band has yet to establish a sizable American audience, but remains a favourite in the UK, especially in Wales, and in many Asian countries including Japan.
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