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March 07, 2017 02:30 PM

If Ed Sheeran hasn’t invaded your speakers yet, just give it time. His latest single, the instantly hummable “Shape of You,” has shot to No. 1 across the planet, offering just a hint of the tuneful treats found on his new full-length, ÷ (that’s “Divide,” folks), which dropped last Friday. In celebration of his long-awaited return after retiring from the spotlight for nearly a year, the 26-year-old sat with Rolling Stone for an extensive and revealing profile. Read on for some of the highlights.

He Overcame His Stutter By Rapping Along to Eminem

Growing up in Suffolk on England’s east coast, Sheeran recalled being teased for his shock of red hair, poor athletic ability and stutter. “You’d put your hand up and not be able to speak. And kids are cruel. So once that would happen, someone would imitate it. And then you’d be like, ‘I’m not going to put my hand up next time.'” He credits rapping along to Eminem‘s 2000 album The Marshall Mathers LP for helping him overcome the speech impediment.

His first date with girlfriend Cherry Seaborn was spent at an American Institute for Stuttering gala in 2015, where Sheeran was named as an honoree.

He Will Probably Perform at Your Wedding—For a Bargain Price

Upon learning that the Rolling Stone reporter had a significant other, Sheeran made a generous offer. “If you ever need a wedding band…I always say, ‘It’s free if I’m free!'” This was no joke: Sheeran has serenaded a number of his friends on their big day. “As long as you sort me out with a lot of booze and a bed, I’m there.”

His Home Studio Has Seen Some Famous Faces

Sheeran’s five-floor West London home boasts some quirky accoutrements, including a large stuffed Charmander Pokémon, a bong shaped like songwriter Benny Blanco’s head, a personal gym and a full service bar. But perhaps most impressive is his home studio, which has hosted some major musical figures. In lieu of a guestbook, Sheeran invites visitors to sign the walls. Scribbles by Rick Rubin, Harry Styles, and legendary visual artist Damien Hirst adorn the space—but one panel is empty save for one name. “That’s [Eric] Clapton,” says Sheeran. “Elton [John]‘s coming next week and Cherry’s cooking, so I’m going to do a legends wall.”

He Never Hooked Up with Taylor Swift, But Her Friends, on the Other Hand…

While their musical chemistry is undeniable, Sheeran has long denied any romantic sparks with Taylor Swift when he served as the opening act on the North American leg of her Red tour in 2013. “I found that aspect quite lazy journalism,” he says of the rumors in gossip mags. “There wasn’t any truth to it whatsoever.”

However, he does admit to hooking up with certain (unnamed) members of T-Swift’s famous squad—before he fell for Seaborn, of course. “Taylor’s world is celebrity,” he reveals. “I was this 22-year-old awkward British kid going on tour with the biggest artist in America, who has all these famous mates. It was very easy. … I would often find myself in situations just kind of waking up and looking over and being like, ‘How the f— did that happen?'”

Peggy Sirota

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He Knows How to Toss ‘Em Back

Hanging out with Ed Sheeran seems like the most fun you’ll ever have—and never remember. Partying is a major through-line in the Rolling Stone profile, and his preferred poison is apparently five shots of chilled Patron tequila mixed with a shot of passion fruit juice. But if that’s not available, he’s not tremendously picky. “He’s not a big druggy, but he likes a drink,” confirms friend Elton John. “He’s a lot of fun.”

Sometimes Sheeran wonders if he ever overdoes it on the booze. “Often, I’m like, ‘Is it bad that I drink almost every single day?’ And then I look at my friends and most of them do the same. And they’re actually worse than me. The first thing Americans say is, ‘There’s a problem, and you need to go to rehab.’ But I don’t wake up and drink. I don’t depend on drink. I can go without it completely. I just enjoy going out and having fun, being 25. And I think that’s a normal thing.”

He’s Working on Assembling a Boy Band

Is Sheeran going to be the next Simon Cowell? The singer is currently auditioning members for a boy band he’s creating. Sheeran says he’s written many songs for the project, which he describes as “really, really decent. Superpop, but obviously credible. I’m gonna put three or four boys together and do all the songs, take them on the stadium tour with me.”

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