Ed Sheeran Plays Guitar On The Stand During Marvin Gaye Copyright Trial
Ed Sheeran plays guitar on the stand on Thursday as part of his statement in a trial about whether his hit song "Thinking Out Loud" copied the classic Marvin Gaye song "Let's Get It On." The heirs of Ed Townsend, the songwriter who wrote "Let's Get It On" with famous soul singer Marvin Gaye, are suing the British artist.
The plaintiffs say that Sheeran's 2014 song "Thinking Out Loud" stole harmonic progressions, melodic and rhythmic elements from "Let's Get It On" without permission, which Sheeran rejects.
Ed Sheeran Plays Guitar On The Stand
Ed Sheeran plays guitar on the stand in his copyright trial
Ed Sheeran picked up his guitar in a packed New York courtroom on Thursday and played a song that has him in a copyright dispute with Marvin Gaye's soul classic "Let's Get It On." A jury was the only audience that counted, and they watched him play. Sheeran had already been in court for an hour when his lawyer, Ilene Farkas, asked him why he wrote "Thinking Out Loud" ten years ago.
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He reached back, grabbed his guitar from a rack behind the witness stand, and said that making songs was like breathing to him. He said that he used his own version of phonetics to write songs so quickly that he could write up to nine in a day. Sheeran said that he wrote 10 songs just last weekend.
The mini-concert took place on Monday, as Sheeran kept talking at his trial for copyright violations. Sheeran has been accused by the family of "Let's Get It On" co-writer Ed Townsend of stealing the sheet music for the song.
Sheeran said in court that he and co-writer Amy Wadge wrote "Thinking Out Loud" in less than a day in February 2014, when Wadge was living at his house in the UK.
Sheeran said that they were making music and had written about two more songs when he went upstairs to take a shower before dinner. Sheeran said that when he got out of the shower, he heard Wadge playing chords and thought, "We need to do something with that." He said that when they got back from dinner, they finished the song and put it on an iPhone text message.
Sheeran said that Wadge was the one who came up with the basic chord arrangement at the beginning of the song. He said it was possible that they took turns coming up with chords for another part of the song and that they both worked together on the lyrics. Sheeran said that he and Wadge both had family members who were sick or had just died and that thinking about their long marriages was what made them write the song.
The children of Ed Townsend, who wrote "Let's Get It On" with Marvin Gaye in 1973, say that Sheeran copied the song. The claimants in the "Thinking Out Loud" case are Townsend's daughter Kathryn Townsend Griffin, his sister Helen McDonald, and the estate of his ex-wife Cherrigale Townsend. Gaye died in 1984 and Townsend died in 2003.
This isn't the first time that a copyright case has been about either man's songs. Sheeran won a copyright infringement case about "Shape of You" last year. In 2015, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams won a case against Gaye's heirs over "Got to Give it Up," but those heirs are not involved in this case.
Ed Sheeran plays guitar on the stand and played a mix of his songs and Marvin Gaye's to show how common the four-chord pattern was in his hit song "Thinking Out Loud." Sheeran played the first line of "Thinking Out Loud" to try to counter the evidence of Alexander Stewart, an expert witness for the plaintiff.