“If That Happens I’m Done, I’m Stopping!” Ed Sheeran Threatened to Quit Music Amidst Plagiarism Accusations
Ed Sheeran took the witness stand in the federal court in Manhattan last Monday. Unfortunately, the 32-year-old singer-songwriter is currently facing accusations with regard to one of his biggest hits ever. Furthermore, Sheeran pledged to quit music if the jury finds him guilty, a huge concern to fans of the much beloved British singer.
Sheeran found the accusations “insulting”.
Ed Sheeran declared that he would give up his music career if he is proven guilty of copying Marvin Gaye’s soulful anthem, Let’s Get it On. He dismissed the accusations as “insulting” and vehemently denied any infringement on Gaye’s and co-writer Ed Townsend’s 1973 classic while he composed and wrote Thinking Out Loud.
During his testimony, Sheeran said to his attorney, “If that happens, I’m done, I’m stopping.” He also stated that he finds it insulting that he has devoted his life to being a performer and songwriter, only to have someone belittle his work. The heirs of Townsend are the ones suing Sheeran and seeking a remarkable $100 million in damages.
The artist countered the accusations with persuasive evidence.
During the court hearing at the Manhattan federal court, lawyers representing Townsend’s heirs presented evidence of Sheeran blending Thinking Out Loud and Let’s Get it On flawlessly during a live performance, implying that he had plagiarized the latter. However, on Monday, Sheeran countered this accusation by stating that musicians frequently create “mashups” and that he had also blended Thinking Out Loud with other songs like Crazy in Love and I Will Always Love You.
Sheeran also emphasized that several songs share comparable chords, allowing for seamless transitions between them. In addition, he argued that he would be foolish to admit to plagiarizing a song on stage in front of a massive audience. Sheeran further stated that his famous tune was, in fact, inspired by Van Morrison, an Irish musician. As evidence, he played the 4-chord sequence that he is alleged to have taken from Let’s Get It On while performing Morrison’s Tupelo Honey and Crazy Love.
Moreover, during the hearing, Sheeran criticized the plaintiff’s musicologist, who had claimed that the first 24 seconds of Thinking Out Loud were similar to Let’s Get it On and pointed out melodic similarities in the verse, chorus, and interlude. The musicologist had played a computer-generated version of Let’s Get it On to support his argument, which reportedly caused laughter in the courtroom.
Sheeran further accused the musicologist of altering the song to make it sound more like Gaye’s work, which he believed was unethical. He further expressed surprise that he was considered an expert in the field.
Under cross-examination by Patrick Frank, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, Sheeran became combative and downplayed the discrepancies between his and his co-writer’s accounts of when and how Thinking Out Loud was composed in February 2014. He also ridiculed Frank’s questions about his songwriting collaborations, stating that it was a common practice among musicians.
During the trial, Sheeran shared details about his creative process for Thinking Out Loud, which he wrote about the start of a new romantic relationship and his grandfather’s passing. He mentioned that his personal life and family are often sources of inspiration for his music. The singer explained that he and the co-writer worked together on the lyrics and that she played the chords for the song during a visit to his home.
Sheeran even sang a portion of the song on the stand, specifically the phrase, “I’m singing out now,” which he claimed was part of the songwriting session with the co-writer. The song was a massive success, topping charts in the UK and the US and winning a Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 2016. However, in 2017, Townsend’s family filed a lawsuit for copyright infringement.
Sheeran eventually won the $100 million case.
Fortunately, a day later, the jury reached verdict that Sheeran’s hit song did not copy Marvin Gaye’s classic after all. The Grammy award winner was overwhelmed with emotion. He briefly covered his face in relief before getting up and embracing his lawyer.
The artist stated outside the courtroom that he is just an ordinary guy who enjoys writing music for people to enjoy and that he would not allow himself to be a piggy bank.