Story Behind The Song
Kevin Carter by The Manic Street Preachers
Richey Edwards, who was rhythm guitarist of the Manic Street Preachers until his disappearance in 1995 wrote the lyrics for this song about a South African photographer who took his own life in 1994.
Just months after 33 year old Kevin Carter was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his photograph showing the plight of starving families in Sudan he killed himself.
Bad grades led to Kevin Carter dropping out of school and joining the South African Defense Force. He hated being linked to the apartheid regime and made himself unpopular with his colleagues when he showed sympathy for a black waiter. It was clear to him that he had to move on to other work and eventually found himself working in a photographic shop where he fell into journalism. It was while working for a newspaper in Johannesburg that Carter met three other journalists, Greg Marinovich, Ken Oosterbroek and Joao Silva.
The three friends began working their way through areas of fighting between Nelson Mandela’s A.N.C & the Inkatha Freedom Party. They captured vivid images of violence and became known as the Bang Bang Club.
In 1933, Carter and Silva headed to the famine stricken area of Sudan to photograph the rebel movement. Venturing into the open bush, his attention was gripped by the sound of a small girl crying as she tried to reach the feeding centre. He crouched to capture a picture of her and as he did so, a vulture landed by her. The photo became the most poignant image of Africa’s desperation. It was seen all around the world and was the picture that won him the coveted Pulitzer Prize.
That his career and fame should come out of the suffering of so many poor people must have been impossible for him to live with as just two months later, Kevin Carter killed himself. He parked his truck beside a small river where he had played as a child, attached a length of hose to the exhaust pipe and ran it to the driver’s side window. He left a note on the passenger seat. Part of the suicide note read: I'm really, really sorry. The pain of life overrides the joy to the point that joy does not exist. I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings & corpses & anger & pain ... of starving or wounded children, of trigger-happy madmen, often police, of killer executioners
In 2010, a film entitled The Bang Bang Club was released, dramatizing the story of the four photographers who risked their lives to show the world the horrors of the events leading up to the end of apartheid.
Kevin Carter, the single reached number nine in the UK Chart on 12 October 1996, giving the Manic Street Preachers a third straight top-ten hit. It stayed in in the charts for 8 weeks.
The song appeared of the Manic Street Preachers’ album Everything Must Go. Although the song writing credits go to James Dean Bradfield, Nicky Wire, Sean Moore and Richey Edwards, the lyrics were written solely by Edwards, well known for his dark and politically influenced lyrics.
After his disappearance, it was hoped Richey Edwards was in hiding and that the release of some of his songs on the new album would entice him out. Sadly he has never been found.