fbpx

How Ed Sheeran Went from Sleeping in the Subway to International Superstar

9 January 2020

Find out How Ed Sheeran’s Rags to Riches Stories Is a Musical Journey in Itself!

 

If you haven’t read about Ed Sheeran, biography of his life or his musical journey you just haven’t been paying attention to the struggles of self-made artists. As one of the hottest and highest-earning artists in the world today, there’s no question that Sheeran is a superstar, but it wasn’t always the smoothest path for him. Although he likes to downplay his struggles while trying to break into the music business, the reality was he didn’t have a place to call home for over two years. So how did he go from sleeping in the subway to becoming the international celebrity that he is today? We’re going to give you all the details, but first a little background.

Who is Ed Sheeran?
The Beginning
The Struggle
Breaking Point
The Breakthrough
The Win
The Lesson
The Quote
Question

 

We know you’re used to seeing Ed Sheeran in videos and not reading about him in articles, so we’ve covered the contents of this article in a video just for you:

If you are still more for reading, then we’re all set to begin the article!

Who is Ed Sheeran?

Ed Sheeran is one of the best-selling artists in the world today with over 150 million records sold. He’s released four albums to date, two of which are included on the list of the best-selling albums in UK chart history. His “divided” tour, which stretched from March 2017 to August 2019, is recognized as the highest-grossing tour of all time. He’s received four Grammy Awards, five Brit Awards, and six Billboard Music Awards. In 2017, he was appointed as a Member of the Order of the British Empire by Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace for his services to music and charity.

He also has a net worth of 160 million dollars. These achievements are remarkable, considering he is only 28 years old. In addition to his music career, Ed was also a member of the National Youth Theatre in London and has appeared in 11 films and television shows. But before all of that, he was just a kid who really loved music. Let’s go back and see where this story began.

The Beginning

Ed Sheeran started singing in the church choir at age four, learned to play the guitar in elementary school, and started writing his own songs in high school in Suffolk, England. His talents were recognized early on as his classmates voted him “most likely to be famous” when he was just 13 years old in 2004. That’s the year that he first began recording music. He struggled with a stutter growing up, and although he tried speech therapy, it wasn’t until he began writing more of his own music that the stutter went away. For this reason and others, Sheeran knew that music was his calling, and he knew he would do whatever it would take to become a professional singer, but he didn’t know what was in store for him.

The Struggle

At the age of 18, Ed packed up a few belongings and moved to London as he thought he would have more musical opportunities there. He didn’t have much of a plan or a place to stay. He was able to quickly dive into the music scene and line up singing opportunities; however, these weren’t high paying gigs and sometimes he didn’t even have money for food. Most of his nights were spent couch surfing with friends and even strangers that he met at his gigs, but there were several nights from 2008 to 2010 that he didn’t have anywhere to sleep. On many of these nights, he slept under an arch outside of Buckingham Palace because it had a heating duct that would keep him warm.

He would also sleep in the London subway many nights. He would play a gig, wait until the subway opened at 5am, and then sleep there until about 12 before getting back to the grind. In a later interview he stated that he was never actually homeless; he just didn’t have a place to stay some nights, but the reality is he did not have a place of his own and his life was far from stable. This began to wear on him, and he almost gave up music altogether.

Breaking Point

In 2010, Sheeran sold out a venue and had his largest audience ever with 500 people. The concert went great, and after the show he was having a good time drinking with his fans. But when the venue cleared out, he realized he had spent the last of his cash on drinks. He became really frustrated at the thought that he had worked incredibly hard over the last three years playing gig after gig, releasing four Eps, and finally playing a sold out show, and yet there was no money in his pocket and he still had no place to live. He walked to a friend’s house and then started crying, telling his friend that he couldn’t do it anymore, but soon after this, his life would completely change.

The Breakthrough

Ed had been posting his music to YouTube, and one day his videos caught the eye of the English rapper “Example”. He asked Ed to go on tour with him, and this was a major break for him. It helped him increase his fan base and gave him more financial stability. People around the world started following his YouTube videos. Soon he had the idea to go to America to try to really jump start his music career. Again, he didn’t have a recording contract or even a place to stay.

He reached out to recording studios and artists but wasn’t getting anywhere. One day he showed up at a radio show in Los Angeles that was hosted by Jamie Foxx. He convinced Jaime to listen to him sing, and Jamie was so impressed that he offered to let Ed stay at his house for six weeks in late 2010, and he also helped him make other important connections in the music industry.

The Win

In January 2011, he finally secured a record contract with Asylum Records, and things began to happen quickly for him. His debut studio album was released in September and sold more than a million copies over the next year. In June 2012 he performed his song “The A Team” at the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II concert outside of Buckingham Palace, right near where he used to sleep outside under the arch. He collaborated with Taylor Swift and One Direction and then headlined a tour of smaller venues in 2012.

Elton John’s management company, Rocket Music, took him on as a client, and Elton became his mentor. He arranged for Sheeran to appear with him in a Grammy performance in 2013. He followed this up by performing as the opening act for Taylor Swift’s The Red Tour, and by the end of the year he was headlining his own sold out shows. He was nominated for Best New Artist at the 2014 Grammy Awards but lost out to Sam Smith. But it didn’t matter. His years of hustling and grinding had landed him exactly where he always wanted to be. He was an international superstar with a strong fan base and number one records, but more importantly to him, he had made a life for himself doing what he loved.

Resource: 15 Rules to Win At Life (Part 1)” is locked 15 Rules to Win At Life (Part 1)

The Lesson

Ed Sheeran was dangerously close to giving up on his dreams right before all of his hard work started paying dividends. Imagine where he would be if he had done that. He might still be doing fine, but he certainly wouldn’t have 160 million dollars and the life he always imagined. Remember his story when you are getting discouraged and are tempted to give up on achieving your goals. You never know what could be right around the corner.

Whether your vision for your life is clear or you’re still figuring out what path you want to take, you’ll be encouraged by reading The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau. Chris interviewed hundreds of people he calls questers to see how they turned their dreams into reality. This book offers both inspiration and guidance for those who are ready to achieve their goals. It typically costs 24 dollars, but no need to worry about that. Just go to alux.com/freebook and sign up so that you can get the audiobook version for free thanks to our partnership with Audible!

The Quote

While researching his story, we’ve come across this inspiring quote from Sheeran we’d like to share with you that goes like this:

“Success is the best revenge for everything.”

So if someone hurt you, betrayed you, or doubted you, instead of trying to cut them down, channel that energy into achieving your goals so that you can take yourself to a whole ‘nother level.

Question

Now that we’re wrapping up this story, we’d like to know: What Ed Sheeran song could you listen to over and over again? Let us know in the comments.