AboutSheeran was born in Halifax, West Yorkshire to Irish and English parents, before moving to Framlingham, Suffolk; he is a cousin of TV journalist and presenter Gordon Burns. He learned guitar at a very young age, and began writing songs during his time at Thomas Mills High School in Framlingham. His early childhood memories, referred to in an interview on the Zane Lowe show, included listening to Van Morrison on his countless trips to London with his parents and going to an intimate gig with Damien Rice in Ireland when he was 11. He also opened for Nizlopi in Norwich in April 2008 after being one of their guitar technicians. Sheeran began recording in 2005, which led to the release of his first EP, The Orange Room EP. Sheeran also released 2 albums, a self-titled one in 2006 and Want Some? in 2007. He moved to London in 2008 to play gigs, starting off in very small venues, playing every day, to as little as five people. In 2008, he auditioned for the ITV series Britannia High.
In 2009, Sheeran played 312 gigs. He said that he read an interview with James Morrison that said that Morrison had done 200 gigs in a year, and Sheeran wanted to beat him on this number. Also in 2009, he released another EP, You Need Me, just before going on tour with Just Jack. He also did a few collaborations with Leddra Chapman, including a cover of Cee Lo Green's Fuck You. In February 2010 Sheeran posted a video through SB.TV, which led to mainstream rapper Example asking Sheeran to tour with him. Also in February 2010 he released his critically acclaimed Loose Change EP, which featured his later debut single "The A Team".
In April 2010, after leaving his old management company, Sheeran bought a ticket to Los Angeles, with no contacts other than one poetry night. He played open mic nights all over the city, before his talent was spotted at The Foxxhole by Jamie Foxx, who was so impressed that he offered Sheeran the use of his recording studio and the run of his Hollywood home for the rest of his stay. Throughout 2010, Sheeran began to be seen by more people over the internet through YouTube and his fan-base grew, with him also getting credit from The Independent newspaper, England football captain Rio Ferdinand and Elton John. Sheeran also self-released two other EPs in 2010; Ed Sheeran: Live at the Bedford and Songs I Wrote With Amy, which is a collection of love songs he wrote in Wales with fellow singer songwriter Amy Wadge.
Sheeran at Academy 1, Manchester Dot to Dot Festival on Monday 30 May 2011. On 8 January 2011, Sheeran released his final independent EP, No. 5 Collaborations Project featuring appearances by grime artists including Wiley, JME, Devlin, Sway and Ghetts. With this EP, Sheeran gained mainstream attention for reaching number 2 in the iTunes chart without any promotion or label, selling over 7,000 copies in its first week. Three months later, Sheeran put on a free show to fans at the Barfly in Camden. Over 1,000 fans turned up to see the show, so Sheeran ended up playing four different shows to make sure everyone saw a gig, including a gig outside on the street after the venue had closed. Later that month, Sheeran was signed to Asylum / Atlantic Records.