On February 17th 1995 police found Richey Edwards’ Vauxhall Cavalier abandoned at the Severn View service station. They reported that there was evidence that The Manic Street Preachers’ guitarist had been living in the car.
As for the car’s owner, well nothing has been heard from him since. There have been alleged sightings in Goa and Lanzarote, while there are those believe that he took his own life and jumped off the Severn Bridge. I guess we will never know.
Edwards, however, wasn’t the first rock star who decided that they had had enough of their old life and wanted to start anew. Various members of Fleetwood Mac disappeared in the late 60s and early 70s to be discovered in the cradle of slightly iffy religious groups.
There are others too and I have rounded up five stories of musicians who, for one reason or another, completely disappeared. Some, like Richey, are missing presumed dead, others are just keeping an incredibly low profile while working on that magical next album. Then there’s the tale of Rodriguez, a singer whose life was shrouded in mystery before a film was made retelling his amazing tale.
The other thing about all five is that each of them has created some wonderful music, which in four out of the five cases, deserves to be much better known.
Shelagh McDonald - the acid trip that went badly wrong
A few years ago when Acid Folk started becoming a very hot genre for music collectors and DJs the two albums by Scottish singer Shelagh McDonald became very sought after. Eventually in 2005 Castle Records released them both as a double album and a new generation got to hear her striking melodic songs. Recorded in the early 70s with an A List of British folkies in attendance The Shelagh McDonald Album and Stargazer are chocka with gorgeous tunes, interesting arrangements and some wonderfully wistful vocals. In the 70s it seemed that she would become a rival to Sandy Denny as the most influential British folkie. But as the sleeve notes of the reissue noted sometime in 1971 McDonald had a bad LSD trip which psychologically scared her so badly that she disappeared. At the time no one knew if she was alive or dead. With no contact with her friends or the record company McDonald had gone to live with her parents before hooking up with a book seller and living on welfare benefits and moving from house to house, and later tent to tent. After the reissue of the album she broke cover telling her story to the Scottish Daily Mail. She even started gigging again in 2012.if you like folk music the albums are highly recommended. They range from Joni Mitchell-esque tunes like Crusoe to almost funky vibe-driven uptempo tracks like Mirage. The title track of the second album is up there with the best folk records made in Britain at the time.