Since the release of his debut single ‘The A-Team’ in 2011, Ed Sheeran’s career has gone from strength to strength. But was the journey to fame and fortune smooth sailing?
Ed Sheeran got famous through hard work and sheer determination. After moving to London in 2008, Ed independently released a series of records and started gigging relentlessly. His big break came in 2010 when he starred on Jamal Edwards’ SBTV with a live performance of ‘You Need Me, I Don’t Need You’.
Nowadays Ed Sheeran is a household name. His biggest hit, Shape of You, has over 2.5 billion streams on Spotify and has won a Grammy Award for Best Solo Pop Performance. But have you ever wondered about the secret to Ed Sheeran’s success? Keep reading to find out.
The Early Years
Growing up, Ed Sheeran was always fond of music. He frequently played around on his parents’ piano and at the age of 4 joined his local church choir.
But it wasn’t until 2002 that Ed realized the true extent of his passion. At the age of 11, Ed heard Derek and the Dominos perform ‘Layla’ at Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee celebrations and fell in love. Ed asked for a guitar the following Christmas and ‘Layla’ became the first song that he learned to play.
Ed put hours of practice into his guitar playing and, after being inspired by Eminem’s ‘The Marshall Mathers LP’, decided to start recording music of his own.
In 2004, Ed independently released his first album, Spinning Man. Speaking of the album in his biography, Ed notes:
“In 2004, I made my very first album, Spinning Man, named after a picture that my dad had. I burnt the CDs myself and made the covers. There were 14 songs, and they were all songs that rhymed”.
So it’s fair to say that Ed Sheeran’s first album failed to take off. In any case, he independently released a second record, The Orange Room, one year later in 2005. The EP features 5 tracks: Moody Ballad of Ed, Misery, Typical Average, Addicted, and I Love You.
Take Me Back To London
Despite the lack of attention his first two records got, Ed continued to write music. In 2007 at the age of 16, Ed left school and moved to London to advance his musical endeavors.
Determined to be heard, Ed spent a lot of time gigging in small venues and busking on streets around the capital. Even when he was facing homelessness and struggling to make ends meet, Ed continued to work hard. He notes that he spent a large portion of time couch surfing, sleeping on the London Underground, and outside Buckingham Palace.
“Being ginger can seem like a bad thing when you are young but as a musician it has been my saving grace – because if you see a ginger kid on TV and there is only one messy-haired ginger kid who plays guitar, it is very easy to find them on YouTube”, Ed told one interviewer.
Throughout this period, Ed continued to maintain an active online presence and it eventually worked in his favor. After releasing his third EP ‘You Need Me, I Don’t Need You’ in 2009, Ed started to gain recognition. In 2010 he was invited to perform the song for Jamal Edwards’ SBTV music channel, and the video subsequently went viral.
As a result of this, Ed was invited to tour with fellow British rapper, Example. Together they went viral again with their ‘Nando’s Skank’ freestyle.
The A Team
During his time touring with Example, Ed found the time to release his fourth record ‘Loose Change’, which featured the debut single ‘The A Team’.
The A Team was a slow burner – it was played on radio stations throughout the UK and gradually gained traction. But in April 2011, Ed was invited to perform the song on Later with Jools Holland and from here he pretty much enjoyed overnight success! In the following week, the single sold around 58,000 copies and from here Ed became more and more successful!