When They Weren't Famous

Back to the 'In The Beginning: My Life With The Manic Street Preachers' review

Your exposure to embryonic pop stars
This month: The original fifth Manic.

Photo: Jenny Watkins-Isnardi

"Even though we were teenagers the rehearsals were 100 per cent serious," says Jenny Watkins-Isnardi, who was vocalist for Manic Street Preachers for three months in summer 1987.

"In some ways they were like every sort of kid at that age, but what made them stand out was their burning desire to escape the Valleys and to find something different in their lives."

Introduced via her best pal Sam, who was going out with James Dean Bradfield, Jenny was asked to join in a letter from Nicky Wire, who also asked her to go out with him. They were all studying for A-levels at Cross Keys Tertiary College near Blackwood; Jenny remembers Wire being a studious, intense 18-year-old, Bradfield as less academic but still a keen reader and Sean Moore really liking food. Richey Edwards, who came later, was a shy, introverted type.

Jenny, now a 31-year-old writer, also recalls that among their covers of songs by the Sex Pistols and The Jesus and Mary Chain was one original - Motorcycle Emptiness. "I knew that song was special," she says. "I was really surprised when I found out they'd made it so big - I lived on a farm in Uruguay until 1991 - but in other ways I wasn't surprised at all."

From Q magazine, January 2001