With Ed Sheeran’s crown securely in place atop his fluffy red head, it’s a challenge for anyone to grab at Sheeran’s top spots on the charts (Drake and Kendrick Lamar seem like the only men for the job). And with Sheeran’s pull in the pop world, it’s good to have this guy on your side — his golden touch as a songwriter has gifted plenty of other artists with hits as well. That’s why the U.K. singer’s Divide World Tour openers are a lucky few.
James Blunt will be opening the North American leg of Sheeran’s Divide Tour, and he’s celebrating a new album too — one that Sheeran helped write. Blunt, 43, and Sheeran, 26, have been pals for a few years now, and who knows what they have planned for their show when they head over to the U.S.
Sheeran was born in the same year that Blunt learned how to play guitar. Yet, they’ve impacted each other’s careers in different ways. James inspired Ed to get started, while Ed kick-started James’ comeback.
Below, we’re taking a look at their unique friendship from 2012 to now:
2012 — In 2012, Sheeran and Blunt weren’t yet friends, and in an interview, Sheeran explained how he wasn’t ready to fit into Blunt’s world. A year earlier, Sheeran’s “A-Team” broke through on radio, despite its touchy subjects of prostitution and drug addiction. “When I started first going to labels, the most successful singer-songwriter at that time was James Blunt, who’d just sold 13 million records,” he said. “And they didn’t want to hear songs about homeless prostitutes. They wanted to hear love songs, like ‘You’re Beautiful.’ That was kind of where I fell short.” Despite his so-called shortcoming (we all now know Ed can write a love song; just look at “Thinking Out Loud”), he seemed to do more than OK in the coming years.
October 30, 2014 — Let’s throw it back to the days when James Blunt had an advice column in the U.K.’s Metro paper (it’s true, he did). In one particularly juicy column, a reader wrote to the songwriter for advice about an annoying co-worker who gave unsolicited opinions. Blunt wrote back, comparing the reader’s situation to his and Ed Sheeran’s. At the time, it could’ve been seen as a jab at Ed, but now that we know how their friendship turns out, it was probably all in fun. Here’s what he wrote:
I felt the same when Ed Sheeran started selling more records than me. Someone newer, younger, hotter, more ambitious and better has turned up, and rather than getting bitchy about it and telling them you’ve been around for longer, it might be worth having a listen to what they’ve got to say. Or collaborate with them. Ed…?
A bit of foreshadowing in there, huh?
January 14, 2015 — Blunt came to Sheeran’s defense in a big way when Noel Gallagher started throwing shots at the fiery-headed songwriter. In an interview with NME, the former Oasis member proclaimed, “I can’t live in a world where Ed Sheeran is headlining Wembley.” When Blunt saw Gallagher’s declaration surface on Twitter, he responded by saying, “Time to legalise assisted dying.” Ouch. It was sometime in 2015 that Blunt and Sheeran started writing together.
Time to legalise assisted dying. RT @IndyMusic: Noel Gallagher says he cannot live in a world where Ed Sheeran sells out Wembley Stadium
— James Blunt (@JamesBlunt) January 14, 2015
November 26, 2015 — They’re engaged! Wow, Sheeran and Blunt move fast.
No, but really, after the two songwriters joked around on the Australia’s Aria Awards red carpet, laughing and posing for cameras, Sheeran took to Instagram with a photo of them holding hands, writing, “We would like to announce our engagement.”
At that same awards show, Blunt presented his pal with the Diamond Award to recognize the success of Ed’s album x (Multiply) in Australia. As he handed off the award, Sheeran told the story about stealing Blunt’s beer when he was only 14. “I went to one of James’s gigs when I was 14 at the Cambridge Junction and I stole his bottle of Corona,” Sheeran recalled. “There were 20 people in the crowd, and then he went on to sell 20 million records. It’s all right, isn’t it.”
Without a second more, Blunt piped in with a witty remark: “That’s where you got herpes from, me.”
November 27, 2016 — U.K. tabloid The Sun reported that Princess Beatrice was responsible for the recent gash that had shown up on Sheeran’s cheek. Apparently, she hosted Sheeran and Blunt for dinner, and as a party prank, she pretended to knight Blunt with a ceremonial sword. However, she misjudged the weight of the sword and accidentally swung it back, stabbing Sheeran and sending him to the hospital. Other outlets ran with the story, and a few months later, Sheeran confirmed the accident with a smirk on The Graham Norton Show.
— Yahoo Celebrity UK (@YahooCelebUK) November 27, 2016
February 2017 — Both promoting albums — Sheeran’s ÷ (Divide) and Blunt’s The Afterlove — the pair teamed up for a cover of Elton John’s “Sacrifice” on French TV show Teratata. The live performance is the perfect example of how two voices can intermingle and give an old song different feelings.
March 4, 2017 –Bleeran (that’s what we’re calling them now) had another adorable red-carpet moment at Germany’s Goldene Kamera Awards ceremony, where Sheeran was presented with the award for best international music.
March 9, 2017 — The jig is up! Blunt reveals that the Princess Beatrice story was all a gag, and that they’d made a fool of all of us in some twisted, public inside joke. “Ed was drunk, messing around, and he cut himself. We made a fancy story up, people fell for it. It was very embarrassing,” Blunt told U.K. men’s lifestyle magazine ShortList. “It’s bizarre that people fell for it. I blame him. He must be desperate — he’s trying to sell records,” he joked. Oh, Ed and James, we will never tire of your hijinks.
March 24, 2017 — With the release of Blunt’s fifth album The Afterlove came two Blunt-Sheeran collaborations. Sheeran co-wrote “Make Me Better” and “Time of Our Lives,” both ballads about Blunt’s love for his wife and kid. If you listen carefully, you can hear the whispery coos of Sheeran’s voice on the chorus of “Time of Our Lives.” He also has producer credits on the album, which features the work of Sheeran’s regular colleagues, Amy Wadge and Johnny McDaid. In an interview with CNBC, Blunt said that Sheeran helped him be more candid with his lyrics: “Ed Sheeran is a remarkably open, direct lyricist,” he says. “He just opens up and says something honest.”