Ed Sheeran threatens to quit music if he loses Marvin Gaye copyright case

Ed Sheeran's made a dramatic threat to quit music if he loses the copyright trial.
Ed Sheeran's made a dramatic threat to quit music if he loses the copyright trial. Photo credit: Getty Images

Musician Ed Sheeran appeared visibly frustrated on the stand  as he continued his testimony in the second week of his copyright infringement case about whether his smash single 'Thinking Out Loud' copied the classic Marvin Gaye song 'Let's Get It On.'

Sheeran said he found the allegations in the case "really insulting." At one point, the musician said, "I'm not gonna swear."

The 'Shape of You' singer also said he was "done" if he lost the trial, seemingly insinuating he would quit music for good.

He also disputed the testimony of Alexander Stewart, the plaintiffs' expert witness. Sheeran claimed Stewart altered elements from 'Thinking Out Loud' in his analysis in order to prove his point.

Stewart had claimed during the trial last week that the chords Sheeran played in the first 24 seconds of his song were "virtually identical" to 'Let's Get It On.'

Sheeran said that the chords in 'Thinking Out Loud' are a "common progression," and that similar chords are used in several songs.

To demonstrate this, he played the chords from 'Thinking Out Loud' while singing multiple different songs from other artists, including 'Tupelo Honey' and 'Crazy Love.' He testified that he did not copy those songs when he wrote 'Thinking Out Loud.'

On Thursday, Sheeran played the opening line of 'Thinking Out Loud' in an attempt to rebut Stewart's testimony.

Later in the day Monday, Amy Wadge, who co-wrote 'Thinking Out Loud' with Sheeran, testified that she used "exactly the same chord progression" in a previous song.

The song, 'Better Than Me,' was released by Pete Wiley before Wadge and Sheeran wrote 'Thinking Out Loud' in 2014.

Sheeran previously testified that Wadge came up with the basic chord progression in the opening part of the song.

Wadge never formally learned how to play guitar and since her skill level is "pretty basic," she has to rely on the building blocks, she said.

"I was just playing some simple chords that I knew how to play," Wadge said on the stand, adding that she's used similar chords in other songs.

She said it was "not possible" that she could have infringed on another song, either intentionally or not.

Also on Monday, a music expert for the defence testified he's seen "no musicological evidence" that Ed Sheeran and his co-writer copied 'Let's Get It On' when writing 'Thinking Out Loud.'

"The writers of 'Thinking Out Loud' did not copy 'Let's Get It On,'" the expert, Lawrence Ferrara, said on the stand.

Ferrara said the chord progression was in "common use" before 'Let's Get It On,' and the harmonic rhythm is "unremarkable." The melodies in question are "dramatically different" and only have "fragmentary similarities," he said.

Sheeran is accused of copying 'Let's Get It On' by the heirs of Ed Townsend, who co-wrote the 1973 hit with Gaye. Townsend's daughter Kathryn Townsend Griffin, his sister Helen McDonald's trust and the estate of his former wife, Cherrigale Townsend, are the listed plaintiffs on the 'Thinking Out Loud' case.

Gaye died in 1984 and Townsend died in 2003.

When asked on the stand Monday what he would do if the plaintiffs win the case and own the chord progression, Sheeran said, "If that happens, I'm done."