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05th May 2023

‘I spent my whole life idolising him’ – Ed Sheeran says Irish singer inspired his career after Whelan’s gig

Sophie Collins

Ed Sheeran

“I would not be a singer/songwriter had I not gone to Whelan’s”

Ed Sheeran has revealed that a prominent Irish singer is to thank for his route into music after deeply inspiring him at a gig in Whelan’s.

The Shape Of you singer told RTE’s Ryan Tubridy that he owes his career to Damien Rice after a performance he attended in Dublin at a young age.

The songwriter said he was “only 11 or 12” when he saw Rice play for the first time at the famed venue – and said the show “literally changed my life”.

He told of how he was able to meet his hero backstage after the show and that their chat “inspired” him in a way he hopes “to do for someone else”.

During the interview, Ed reminisced and said: “I was only about 11 or 12 years old when I saw Damien play at Whelan’s, and that night literally changed my life.

“The time he spent talking with me after the show made all the difference. It inspired me in a way that I only hope to do for someone else.”

The 32-year-old went on to enjoy worldwide fame, selling millions of albums and on tonight’s Late Late Show he tells of how he recently got to meet with Rice again.

“It had been such a long time since I have been obviously young and seen him at Whelan’s,” he said.

“And I sort of got to know his sister a bit here and I never knew whether he liked me because he is a very elusive person and I’d sort of gone through life…you know Van Morrison is sort of an elusive person and he said he liked me.

“And I was like ‘if Van Morrison said that he liked me’ and Eminem did the same and Eric Clapton and all these people and then I am like ‘I wonder does he [Damien Rice] like me?’”

Ed said that he decided to take a chance and called to Damien’s door for a catch up with the iconic Cannonball singer.

“Yeah, so I got to the country that he was living in, that his sister said that he was living in, and yeah, I just sort of knocked on his door and we went for a long walk and a big catch up,” he told Tubridy.

“And it is weird saying it was like hanging out with an old friend, like we got on instantly. And now we email all the time and catch up and we shared songs.

“We had like a 12-hour chat, and it was like, it was such a nice full circle moment.

“Because I spent my whole life idolising him and also shouting him out at every opportunity because I would not be a singer/songwriter had I not gone to Whelan’s and watched Damien Rice play.”

You can watch the full interview on the Late Late Show tonight, on RTE One at 9:35 pm.


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