In January 2002, I was asked to answer the following questions for the Scottish newspaper, The Herald, which was planning an article about the seventh anniversary of Richey's disappearance. Unfortunately, the article was never published. But I've decided to post the questions, and my answers, in case anyone's interested in reading them.
Some of my answers were copied from my other writings in this section.
I answered these before it was announced that Richey was not going to be declared dead at the anniversary.
How old are you and what do you do for a living?
My passport insists I'm 41. But everyone says I seem to be about 26, 28. And that's about how old I feel.
Currently, I'm still a university student. I have a BA degree in History and I'm studying for my teacher's certification in secondary education.
How long have you been a Manics/Richey fan/both?
Since the end of 1994.
What were your initial reactions when Richey went missing?
I hate to admit it, but I didn't find out until mid-March, six weeks after it happened. I had a variety of feelings. I wanted to know more about what happened (the first article I read really didn't say much, it was one of the earliest reports.) I felt stupid for not finding out sooner. I felt so far away from the UK, more than just an ocean away. Of course, I also felt worry, anxiety - what you'd expect. But there was also anger. Anger that he left so soon - I had just discovered and connected with him, and now he was gone, perhaps forever! Also, Richey's disappearance made me regret not finding out about him and the Manics sooner, like back in 1991, when I first saw his picture in Select magazine. I felt like I had wasted so much time!
How have your feelings changed since Richey first went missing? I assume you think about it far less now?
I think about it a lot during this period around the anniversary. It's like I go from Christmas season, to Richey's disappearance season. (Or, "Richey Days", as I named the period, in a poem I have on my site. The poem is either a primer on what to do, for the "Cult of Richey" people, or a send-up of those people, for the rest of us.) Since my web site is basically about the disappearance, and I'm often trying to come up with ways to improve my site, I end up being confronted with Richey's absence a lot.
There's times that it feels like it just happened, rather than years ago. And there's other times when it seems forever since he was around.
To what extent did you come to terms with his disappearance as the years went by?
At first, I felt like it would be just a matter of time before he came back. As the situation's dragged on, I've resigned myself to the fact that it's going to be a long time before there's any resolution, if ever.
How do you feel in the approach to the declaration on February 1?
I'm trying to remind myself that it's just an official declaration. Just a change of a label on the same old situation. But, there's a tiny, irrational part of me where it feels as though the declaration is killing Richey. Like some voodoo kind of thing. Some legal person declares him dead, and suddenly he drops dead. It makes me a bit sad, too, that the declaration means that the police will be less likely to follow a lead. Like society has decided there's only so much time to try to resolve a missing person case. Which is ridiculous. I keep thinking of Richey's poor family and friends - they need something definite as to what happened, where he may be. And, after 1 February, it seems less likely that they'll get it.
Do you think you will ever fully get closure on the whole issue?
Not unless his body is found, or I know he went home. Unfortunately, I don't think either will happen.
Even though he will be declared dead, do you think you may still have the nagging feeling that he may still be alive? If so, are you satisfied that he will be content with his new identity/lifestyle?
I think he is/was an emotional/psychological mess, who would have had major problems no matter what he did with his life. I think being in the music business was a terrible thing for him; it made his problems worse with the pressure, public scrutiny, etc.
I believe he left intending to disappear into anonymity. If he ever comes back, it will be long after the band has broken up, and no one in the media, or the fans, care anymore.
However, I also believe that is very possible that he has died during these past 7 years, of one, some, or all, of his vices - starvation, drinking, drugs, self-mutilation (perhaps by infection) - or of not taking good care of himself, in general.
Either way, I don't expect that the public will ever see him again. Assuming he's still around, I'm not sure he will ever be content. Maybe less miserable, though.
What was the allure of Richey for you?
Back in 1994, I was very attracted to him initially, because we had similar experiences that year. I also suffered from depression at that time.
Later, the usual things - his beauty, his intelligence, his ability to express his feelings, the way he expressed himself, his similar feelings as mine - kept me interested in him.
I liked the very fact that he was from Britain, as I'd always been an Anglophile, (I soon learned the very real difference between the English and the Welsh - something we Americans don't usually understand). And I liked his androgyny. I've always been a softie for men in make-up!
I've never entirely agreed with his politics - I'm too much of a centrist Democrat, I suppose - but there is some common ground there.
Do you still see him and the things he said in the same light or do you think it was a young fan's fascination?
Well, since I wasn't a "young person" when I discovered Richey, in the first place...
I've changed my thinking about him a bit, because of new things I've found out about him. Mostly, some really bad things he said or did. So, I've had to reconcile that new information with my previous feelings. Sometimes, that hasn't been easy.
How do you feel about some of the extreme behaviour of Richey's fans in the past?
Well, I've been known to do some things that some people might consider a bit extreme. So, I'm really in no position to judge others. But, really, people copy celebrities all the time, anyway. And depending on who the celebrity is, and what is being copied, they don't always get hassled about it. I mean, how many people have cut their hair to look like Jennifer Aniston's? Or got married in a replica of Princess Diana's wedding dress? Is that really so very less extreme than cutting yourself because Richey did? I don't think so. Psychologists say that all behaviour, (except for a baby's sucking at its mother's breast), is learned, primarily from doing what is observed in others. So there's a natural tendency for people to copy each other. Also, I believe that the people who do the Richey-type things, who are obviously identifying with him, I don't think they would unless they had problems of their own. If they didn't have Richey, they might overeat, or become heroin addicts. But they use something like cutting themselves as a way to deal with their problems, because that's what Richey used. I've never bought into the idea that music, or a celebrity, or whatever, is going to make a person do something that they would never otherwise even consider doing.
Are you in general satisfied that this will now be laid to rest?
No, it's just an official thing. Isn't it?
What is the future of your website?
For the immediate future, I'm planning a special section for the anniversary/declaration.
Beyond that, however - I own the domain name (richeyedwards.net) until May 2003, so the site will definitely stay on the web until then. And probably longer.
When I first started my site, I expected a few fans to see it. But, it's gone far beyond that. I'm overwhelmed by the response it's received. As long as people still want to see it, I'll keep some version of it up. I'll have to change my site of course, if the situation changes.
And I may keep it up, just for myself, anyway. Besides being "my baby", (I've spent so much time working on it - probably too much!), the site has had some wonderful, unexpected results. I've met some truly lovely people through it, people who I've been communicating by email with, for several years now, and who I met in person when I last went to Britain in 2000. My site's been useful for someone's school paper. Also, it's allowed me to feel connected to a community of Manic fans, something that doesn't really exist here in America. And apparently, I've created a bit of a community for Richey fans myself.
Copyright © 2002 Vivian Campbell. All rights reserved.