The former lead singer of a cult ‘Madchester’ rock band may have killed herself after leading a lonely and reclusive existence following the group’s break-up, an inquest heard.
Elidh Bradley’s 1990’s grunge trio Solar Race had been a favourite of the late Radio One DJ John Peel and critics including music journalist John Robb tipped them to be the ‘next Nirvana’.
At the height of their fame, during the ‘Madchester’ era, they were signed to the same record label as The Stone Roses, played at the Reading Festival and toured with Courtney Love-fronted American rock band, Hole.
But after the group split due to ‘creative differences’, Eilidh said she ‘preferred being on her own’ and barely left her home as she became increasingly worried her song lyrics were too ‘dark’ and might have a ‘ripple effect’ on fans.
She had also become preoccupied with the notion that she was going to meet a ‘terrible end’.
After being prescribed medication for depression, Elidh, 48, was found dead at her flat in Irlam, near Salford, after her body laid undiscovered for almost a month.
The discovery on May 6 was only made when a policeman looking for a suspect knocked on her front door by mistake during inquiries and sensed something was wrong inside.
Elidh was surrounded by empty packets of paracetamol and prescription medication and tests showed she had passed away ‘at least several weeks earlier’, though her cause of death was unknown.
Earlier, the Bolton hearing was told Elidh was a keen photographer and poet and had burst onto the international stage with Solar Race at the height of grunge in the mid-90s.
They were quickly signed to Silvertone Records – releasing the Not Here single in 1995 which was named NME’s Record of the Week.
Known for their raucous live shows, Solar Race also toured Europe with alternative rock act Bush, and recorded their debut album Homespun with revered producer Steve Albini at the prestigious Abbey Road studios in London.
The three-piece released the album in 1997 but split the following year after recording a compilation of sessions for John Peel.
Eilidh remained creative and graduated with a degree in Media Arts from Manchester Metropolitan University.
But the inquest heard that Eilidh checked herself into the Meadowbrook Psychiatric Unit of Salford Royal Hospital on Christmas Eve 2012 when she felt she ‘wasn’t safe’.
Philip Whitaker, her care co-ordinator said: ”She did have fluctuating thoughts of taking her own life but didn’t talk about them in every session. Part of her thinking was that she was going to meet a terrible end.
“There were persecutory delusions and she would sometimes express thoughts that to take control of these it would be easier to take her own life rather than leave it to fate. That was my impression. We didn’t discuss concrete plans of how she would carry this out.”
Mr Whitaker said Eilidh had few friends during the time he knew her so she would instead spend a lot of time on the internet.
He last saw her on April 11 when she was said to be in a low mood. It emerged she last checked her emails on April 12 but wasn’t found until almost a month later.
Mr Whitaker added: “She was preoccupied and in a low mood. She was quieter than normal. She was talking about the ripple effect that words and ideas had and the consequences for others.
“She had put lyrics on the internet and was concerned about how dark lyrics would affect people who had read them and the consequences of her actions.
“At the end I decided to see her in three weeks – May 2. She didn’t attend. She occasionally missed meetings. I wasn’t overly concerned. I felt I could wait until the next week to chase it up.”
Recording an open conclusion, coroner Simon Jones said he could not be certain on her cause of death but had to rule out suicide as there wasn’t enough evidence.
“It may well be her death occurred shortly after her last meeting with Mr Whitaker,” he said. “There was the presence of a number of items of medication – prescription drugs.
“I can’t make the assumption that she took them all in one go and it led to death. It’s possible she took excess medication with the intention to take her life.
“It is also possible she took a large number because she was feeling low. She could also have died of something unrelated to the medication.”
After the inquest, Eilidh’s niece Emily Kerr, 22, said: “She loved her time in the band and making music and was enjoying life. She was going out and doing things and having a good time. She tried to teach me to play the guitar but that didn’t happen.
“She never spoke about being down and wanted us to know she was happy. We don’t know how she was feeling really. We all have our own lives and she preferred being on her own. It was very much a shock when she passed away.”
In an interview with a local radio station three years ago, Eilidh reflected on the break-up of Solar Race, which was said to be due to creative differences.
She said: “I wanted to carry on getting stranger and stranger but the rest didn’t want that. I was heartbroken and gutted and its one of the reasons I’ve never started another band.”
In an obituary John Robb wrote: ”Eilidh was the blowtorch voiced, impassioned singer of Solar Race who exploded into the post Nirvana scene with a ferocity and melody that should have seen them as a perfect UK riposte to the American new rock but being stuck in Manchester and in a UK that was more indie orientated they could never fulfil their massive potential.
”A rare woman’s voice in a town full of men, Eilidh had her own unique vision of how she wanted to sound.
“A face on the Manchester scene in the eighties, Eilidh had been the classic indie kid and what we will remember her for is her remarkable voice and her great band, another one of those criminally lost nearly bands in the cruel and mean trench of the music business.”
Main image courtesy of JZE via YouTube, with thanks.