James Dean Bradfield, the lead singer with The Manic Street Preachers was born 21 February 1969. The Manic Street Preachers were formed in 1986 at Oakdale Comprehensive School, in Blackwood, Caerphilly and consisting of cousins James Dean Bradfield (lead vocals, lead guitar), and Sean Moore (drums, percussion, soundscapes), plus Nicky Wire (bass guitar, lyrics). They are often colloquially known as The Manics. Bradfield and the slightly older Moore are cousins, and shared bunkbeds in the Bradfield family home after Moore’s parents divorced.
During the bands early years, Bradfield, alongside the classically trained Moore, primarily wrote the music while Wire focused on the lyrics. The origin of the band’s name remains unclear, but the most often-told story relates that Bradfield, while busking one day in Cardiff, got into an altercation with someone (sometimes said to be a homeless man) who asked him “What are you, boyo, some kind of manic street preacher? Original bassist Flicker (Miles Woodward) left the band in early 1988. The band continued as a three-piece, with Wire switching from guitar to bass, and in 1988 they released their first single, “Suicide Alley”. Despite its recording quality, this punk ode to youthful escape provides an early insight into both Bradfield’s guitar work and Moore’s live drumming, the latter of which would be absent from the band’s first LP. The Manics intended to restore revolution to rock and roll at a time when Britain was dominated by shoegaze and acid house. The NME gave “Suicide Alley” an enthusiastic review, citing a press release by Richey Edwards: “We are as far away from anything in the ’80s as possible.”After the release of “Suicide Alley,” Edwards joined the band on rhythm guitar and contributed to lyrics alongside Wire. Edwards also designed record sleeves and artwork, and drove the band to and from gigs.
In 1990 the Manic Street Preachers signed a deal with label Damaged Goods Records for one EP. The four-track New Art Riot E.P. attracted as much media interest for its attacks on fellow musicians as for the actual music. With the help of Hall or Nothing management, the Manics signed to indie label Heavenly Records. The band recorded their first single for the label, entitled “Motown Junk”.Their next single, “You Love Us”, sampled Krzysztof Penderecki’s “Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima” as well as Iggy Pop. The video featured Nicky Wire in drag as Marilyn Monroe and contained visual references to the film Betty Blue and to Aleister Crowley. In an interview with then-NME journalist Steve Lamacq, Edwards carved the phrase “4REAL” into his arm with a razor blade to prove their sincerity. He was taken to hospital and received seventeen stitches.
As a result of their controversial behaviour, the Manics quickly became favourites of the British music press, which helped them build a rabidly dedicated following. They signed toColumbia Records of Sony Music UK and began work on their debut album.Following the release of their first single, “Suicide Alley”, the band was joined by Richey Edwards as co-lyricist and rhythm guitarist. The band’s early albums were in a punk vein, eventually broadening to a greater alternative rock sound, whilst retaining a leftist politicisation. Their early combination of androgynous glam imagery and lyrics about “culture, alienation, boredom and despair” has gained them a loyal following and cult status.
With their debut album, Generation Terrorists, the Manic Street Preachers proclaimed it would be the “greatest rock album ever”, it contains the songs; “Nat West-Barclays-Midlands-Lloyds”, “Motorcycle Emptiness”,”Little Baby Nothing” a duet between Traci Lords and Bradfield, And Everything Must Go. The band also made a cover version of the song ′′Suicide is Painless′′. However the album’s failed to meet this level of success, then Richey Edwards disappeared in February 1995 and Edwards was legally “presumed dead” in 2008
The Manic Street Preachers next album Gold Against the Soul, displayed a more commercial, grungy sound which alienated some fans. The group’s third album, The Holy Bible features an alternative rock sound and incorporates various elements from other musical genres, such as hard rock, British punk, post-punk, new wave, industrial, art rock and gothic rock. Lyrically the album deals with subjects including prostitution, American consumerism, British imperialism, freedom of speech, the Holocaust, self-starvation, serial killers, the death penalty, political revolution, childhood, fascism and suicide. There was also an element of autobiographic subjects, like in the song “4st 7lb” where the lyrics clearly tackle Richey’s own experience and life. In 1996 the Manic Street Preachers released their next album “Everything must go” without Richey, featuring the songs Everything must go, Swimming Horses, Design for Life, Australia”, “Everything Must Go” and “Kevin Carter”. The album was shortlisted for the 1996 Mercury Prize award for best album, and won the band two BRIT Awards for Best British Band and Best British Album. In 1997 the band performed a special gig at the Manchester Arena for more than 20,000 people.
In 1997 the Manic Street Preachers released thier fifth album This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours featuring the songs “You Stole the Sun from My Heart”, “Tsunami” ,”The Everlasting” and “If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next”.This song’s theme is taken from the Spanish Civil War, and the idealism of Welsh volunteers who joined the left-wing International Brigades fighting for the Spanish Republic against Francisco Franco’s military rebels. The song takes its name from a Republican poster of the time, displaying a photograph of a young child killed by the Nationalists under a sky of bombers with the stark warning “If you tolerate this, your children will be next” written at the bottom. The song is in the Guinness World Records as the number one single with the longest title without brackets.
In1999The Manics won Best British Band and Album awards at the BRIT Awards, This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours was also shortlisted for the 1999 Mercury Prize and the band received a further nomination in the category of Best UK & Ireland Act in the 1999 MTV Europe Music Awards, where the band performed live the single If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next. In the NME Awards in 1999, the band won every single big prize, Best Band, Best Album, Best Live Act, Best Single and Best Video, nailing also the prize for Best Band In The World Today in the Q Awards 1998. The album went to number 1 of the band in the UK, remaining at the top of the albums chart for 3 weeks, selling 136,000 copies in the first week and spending a total of 74 weeks in the Album Chart. The title is a quotation taken from a speech given by Aneurin Bevan, a Labour Party politician from Wales.
After headlining Glastonbury Festival, T In the Park and V Festival, the band played the Leaving the 20th Century concert at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on 31 December 1999, the first concert to be held there, with 57,000 people attending and the final song being broadcast around the world by satellite as part of 2000 Today.
In 2000, they released the limited edition single “The Masses Against the Classes”. And In 2001, they became the first popular Western rock band to play in Cuba (at the Karl Marx Theater), and met with president Fidel Castro. Their concert and trip to Cuba was documented and then released as a DVD entitled Louder Than War. At this concert they revealed many tracks from their upcoming sixth album, Know Your Enemy, which was released on 19 March. The left-wing political convictions of the Manic Street Preachers are apparent in many of the album’s songs, such as “Baby Elián” as they comment on the strained relations between the United States and Cuba as seen in the Elián González affair, The album also Features tribute to singer and civil rights activist Paul Robeson in the song “Let Robeson Sing”, James Dean Bradfield wrote the song “Ocean Spray” about his mother’s battle with cancer. Other songs include So Why So Sad” and “Found That Soul”. The Manics also headlined Reading and Leeds Festival.A greatest hits (plus remixes) album Forever Delayed was released in 2002, containing two new songs, “Door to the River” and the single “There by the Grace of God”. Several songs were edited for length (“Motorcycle Emptiness,” “You Love Us”, “Australia,” “Everything Must Go,” “Little Baby Nothing,” and “The Everlasting”)
Despite enduring many tragedies The band went on to gain critical and commercial success And Throughout their career, the Manics have headlined several festivals including Glastonbury, T in the Park, V Festival and Reading, won eleven NME Awards, eight Q Awards and four BRIT Awards. They have been nominated for the Mercury Prize in 1996 and 1999, and have had one nomination for the MTV Europe Music Awards. The group has reached number 1 in the UK charts three times: in 1998, with the album This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours and the single “If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next”, and again in 2000 with the single “The Masses Against the Classes”. They have sold more than ten million albums worldwide.