I don’t usually do these kinds of subjects, for various reasons: even though they’re usually so interesting.
But a couple of current stories have prompted it. I’ll get to Michael Jackson: but the first thing is that I was baffled when I noticed a headline pop up on one of my news-feeds that said: ‘New evidence suggests that Richey Edwards staged his disappearance’.
Really? After almost 25 years?
The NME piece reports, ‘A new book has provided fresh evidence to suggest that Manic Street Preachers guitarist and lyricist Richey Edwards staged his own disappearance…’
For anyone who doesn’t know who Richey Edwards is, he was the guitarist and chief lyricist in the band the Manic Street Preachers. Edwards was something of a counter-culture icon in the British music scene in the early nineties, when the Manics were pretty much the most interesting, edgy and ‘controversial’ band around in the UK. His most significant artistic legacy was the fact that he wrote most of the lyrics to the songs on the Manics’ iconic 1994 album The Holy Bible (a landmark album I gushed over here).
I was a big fan of the Manic Street Preachers back then. I also wrote at length about Richey here a few years ago, including some speculation on his disappearance.
He disappeared in 1995 and his whereabouts has never been known since then. He was officially declared as “presumed dead” in 2008.
I really had considered the matter closed for years by now. Although claims and apocryphal tales have cropped up over the years about Edwards having been seen in various places, including Goa in India, most people seemed to have accepted the likelihood that Edwards, aged 27 at the time, had taken his own life (his car had been discovered next to a known suicide spot).
I was really surprised that this story was cropping up now.
As the NME continues, ‘It’s the first book about the missing Manic Street Preacher written with the full co-operation of his sister. Withdrawn Traces: Searching for the Truth About Richey Manic offers a series of fresh clues that suggest that the guitarist may have carefully planned his disappearance…and features unprecedented access to his personal archives.’
What should we make of this? I guess we should wait to read the book.
But I can’t help but wonder if this is just a staged drama to help sell a book. One of the key claims seems to be a suggestion that Edwards has been living anonymously in a Kibbutz in Israel.
If that’s thought to be a possibility, has anyone actually gone over to Israel to investigate that? I admittedly don’t have all the information here (maybe this will be detailed in the book): but it seems odd to publish a book instead of actually organising an investigation to go over to Israel and look into it.
Maybe I’m being too sceptical.
One of the central themes is said to be that Edwards had a longstanding fascination with mysterious disappearances: the implication being that he contrived a whole situation in which he could become one of those mysterious disappearances.
But then why would he leave his car next to a notorious suicide spot?
I don’t know. I guess I should just wait for the book: the fact that his sister has cooperated with the publication of this book gives me pause for thought, at least.
The thing is though that I can’t see anyone actually going over to Israel – or wherever it turns out to be – and finding him and then announcing ‘Look, it’s Richey – he really did fake his death’. And then a 50-year-old Richey Edwards appearing on camera and giving a statement to explain what he did and why.
That’s not going to happen. So, even if someone does know that Edwards is alive – I don’t see that they would undermine his plan after all this time and announce it for sure or convince him to come back out into the open.
Which, again, makes you wonder what the point of this book is: by definition, it can stand as nothing more than unverifiable speculation.
My own feeling has always been that Edwards – who was a known manic depressive – did choose to end his own life. It makes more sense than him deciding to go continue suffering from manic depression in a kibbutz instead of in Wales. And, from what I’ve read, that entire claim seems to rest on the testimony of one person (who’s reliability hasn’t necessarily been demonstrated).
If it ever was truly announced – or shown – that Edwards was alive and had staged his ‘death’, it would be one of the most extraordinary stories ever.
And it would also be nectar for all those conspiracy enthusiasts who always think celebrities fake their own deaths and go into hiding.
I’ve never really been one of those guys.
But there are a lot of people out there who are obsessed with that idea: not just concerning Elvis, but everyone from Michael Jackson and David Bowie and even to Chris Cornell. If an actual ‘celebrity’ turned out to have staged his ‘death’ and was found to be alive (Richey Edwards, for example), that conspiracy trend towards believing in these staged deaths will be fuelled even more.
I mean, just imagine it.
I will read the new book with interest: but I’m sceptical already.
I will say, however, that the one scenario in which I have come to be convinced that a celebrity’s ‘death’ might’ve been staged is Michael Jackson.
At first, back when the Michael Jackson is Alive stuff was cropping up, I dismissed it: given the culture that already existed around Elvis and his supposedly ‘faked death’, it was pretty much inevitable that the same kind of thing would crop up when someone like Michael Jackson died. And, BTW, it’s still really weird to me that Jackson was married to Elvis’s daughter (even if it was only for five minutes).
There was one major thing a few years ago that convinced me Michael Jackson might not have died: it wasn’t necessarily the odd female figure pictured at his way-over-the-top funeral/deification (who some insist was Michael Jackson in disguise), nor was it necessarily even the famous leaked video of an MJ-like figure getting out of the ambulance that was supposedly carrying his dead body (see here).
But, no: it was the enigma that was ‘Dave Dave’.
I’m sorry, but that fella 100% looks and sounds like he could be Michael Jackson. And – given that curious fact – it’s really odd how he was being brought out into public situations like chat shows to talk about “Michael”.
I know the story is supposed to be that Jackson befriended him when he was a child and maintained a lifelong friendship with him – and so now, he was being brought out to talk about his deceased friend.
But, sorry, that guy couldn’t sound more like Michael Jackson if he tried. And there was something really, really weird going on there: if so, I don’t know who would’ve been in on it and who would’ve been oblivious, or whether the various talk-show hosts (including Larry King) knew what was going on or even suspected something very ‘wacko’ was being played out.
The conceptual artist was known to have previously been employed by Jackson in various capacities, including creative collaborations. ‘Dave Dave’ (real name: David Rothenberg) has also died by now: he passed away last year. There was some mystery as to how he died: pnuemonia has since been annoucned as the cause of death – though various possibilities were suggested at first, including an overdose of painkillers.
Dave Dave’s official story is extraordinary in itself. On a trip to Disneyland in 1983, his father – Charles Rothenberg – attempted to murder him in his hotel room by pouring kerosene over the sleeping child and setting him on fire. The child suffered third-degree burns over 90% of his body, requiring amputations and over 100 skin grafts.
The father, when later leaving prison, changed his name to ‘Charley Charles’. Dave Dave later was claimed to have said ‘Charley Charles’ was ‘not a father, but an imposter’.
I don’t know what the true story is concerning ‘Dave Dave’ and Michael Jackson: it’s just as possible he really was simply befriended by Jackson, who felt sorry for him after his horrendous plight. And Jackson might’ve genuinely died in 2009, and Dave Dave was simply sought by the media because of their friendship.
I’m just saying, again, he really does look and sound like he could be Michael Jackson in a new guise: when you look at the tone of voice, the facial mannerisms, the eyes and even the speech pattern, it’s really difficult not to see Michael Jackson wearing someone else’s face.
That’s all I’m saying – I’m not concluding anything else.
And we live in a mad, mad world.
Read more: ‘NATALIE WOOD: Who Really Murdered the Film Icon…?‘ ‘Looking For Richey Edwards: ‘You Can’t Change Yesterday‘, ‘When Rock n’ Roll Mattered: The Manic Street Preachers & THE HOLY BIBLE‘, ‘DOLORES O’RIORDAN & the Decline of Music as Protest‘, ‘The CHRIS CORNELL Tribute Event: Notes, Thoughts & the Most Beautiful End‘…