Ed Sheeran on why he never learned to shred: “I sort of made a choice when I was younger”

The musician also reveals the Eric Clapton song that started it all.

Ed Sheeran

Image: Anthony Devlin / Getty Images

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Ed Sheeran has opened up about the reason he never learned to shred in a recent interview discussing his musical influences.

The musician was speaking on a recent episode of SiriusXM’s Howard Stern show when he made the comment about shredding, saying “That’s the one thing that I can’t do”.

“I sort of made a choice when I was younger,” he explained. “Like, ‘If I wanna be John Mayer or Eric Clapton, I learn all this shit and if I wanna be Damien Rice, I learn four chords.”

That said, Clapton remained a huge source of inspiration — and obsession — for Sheeran, who told Stern that the guitarist was directly responsible for him picking up the six-string.

“I was watching the Queen’s [Golden] Jubilee when I was 11,” he recalled. “And he came on and played the first [notes of Layla] and I was like, ‘Wow. What the hell is that?’ and then my dad’s like ‘Oh that’s Layla’”.

“Then I got the Derek and the Dominos album, I got the Eric Clapton Greatest Hits, I bought Eric Clapton Unplugged and just learned all these songs… [But Layla] was the first and only thing I could play for a long time.”

The singer also shared the story of how he eventually got to meet his musical hero, saying “I bought the sort of replica guitar of the guitar that he was playing at the Queen’s Jubilee… And I played Jools Holland’s show with that Eric Clapton guitar.”

“I remember waking up on New Year’s Day — because it aired on New Year’s Eve, and I got this email and the title was just ‘E’ and it just said, ‘Nice guitar.’ And I was like, ‘I think that’s Eric Clapton!’ We just got friends from there.”

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