Ed Sheeran gives jury brief concert on witness stand during copyright trial in NYC
Ed Sheeran sang and played guitar on the witness stand in a Manhattan courtroom Thursday, a very musical effort at disproving allegations his hit tune “Thinking Out Loud” is a ripoff of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it On.”
Appearing on day three of the trial, Sheeran pulled out an acoustic guitar, strumming chords and briefly crooning what he said were his song’s original lyrics, “I’m singing out now…”
The brief performance came during Sheeran’s recollection of writing the tune one evening in early 2014 at his England home in a collaboration with his longtime pal Amy Wadge.
In writing the lyrics, Sheeran said he drew inspiration from his grandfather, who had just passed away, and his grandmother, who was unable to walk from a bout of cancer. He recalled Wadge had been going through something similar with a family member of hers.
Sheeran, 32, briefly played and sang a second time, demonstrating the song’s simple four-chord sequence, to rebut an argument that musicologist Alex Stewart made on Wednesday.
All eyes were on Sheeran as he strummed his acoustic Lowden and sang part of a verse before quickly stopping.
Stewart previously argued that the repeating chord progression and melodies in Sheeran’s Grammy-award winning hit are “identical” to Gaye’s, especially during the first 24 seconds of the track, when Sheeran’s chords don’t include an extra note.
“It works very, very well for him but it’s not the truth,” Sheeran said, adding that he “knows” what he plays “every time.”
The trial comes less than two weeks from the release of Sheeran’s new album, “Subtract.”
Griffin Townsend, daughter of Gaye’s songwriting partner Ed Townsend, first sued Sheeran in July 2017, but the case hit legal and pandemic delays that postponed the trial until now.
Sheeran has been accused of stealing from Black musicians in numerous lawsuits and faces two more cases related to “Let’s Get It On,” brought by Structured Asset Sales LLC, which owns a third of Townsend’s rights
Gaye’s family has filed similar suits before, including a case in 2015 against singer Robin Thicke and producer Pharrell Williams for copying Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” on their track “Blurred Lines.” Thicke and Williams were ordered to cough $5 million and half of future royalties for their tune.