Ed Sheeran was born on February 17, 1991, in Halifax, West Yorkshire, in the United Kingdom. When he was young, he began playing guitar, showing early promise as a musical talent. When he was 11, Sheeran met singer-songwriter Damien Rice backstage at one of Rice’s shows, and the young musician found added inspiration. As the story goes, Rice told Sheeran to write his own music, and Sheeran set out the next day to do just that.
It wasn’t long before Sheeran was recording CDs and selling them, and he soon put together his first official EP, The Orange Room. With that accomplishment and his abiding ambition driving him, at only 14 years of age, Sheeran headed to London for the summer. Thinking he could find gigs on the big city, Sheeran left home with his guitar and a backpack full of clothes, and his musical career took flight.
Once in London, Sheeran got busy recording and playing the local singer-songwriter circuit and quickly released two albums: a self-titled record in 2006 and Want Some? in 2007. He also began opening for more established acts, such as Nizlopi, the Noisettes and Jay Sean, and released another EP, You Need Me, in 2009, a year that found Sheeran playing more than 300 live shows.
When Sheeran headed to the U.S. in 2010, he found a new fan in Jamie Foxx, who asked Sheeran to appear on his Sirius radio show. Soon after, in January 2011, Sheeran released yet another EP, his last as an independent artist. Without any promotion, the record reached No. 2 on the iTunes chart, and he signed on with Atlantic Records that same month.
With Atlantic, Sheeran released his major debut studio album, +. An instant hit, the album sold more than a million copies in the U.K. in the first six months alone. Sheeran began co-writing songs with bigger artists, such as One Direction and Taylor Swift, and supported Swift on her 2013 arena tour.
On a roll, Sheeran’s next success would come when his song "I See Fire" was featured in movie The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and in June 2014, his next album, x, appeared, debuting at No. 1 in the U.S. and U.K.