Ed Sheeran has credited his childhood sweetheart and a 2016 hiatus with giving him balance when the dark side of fame started tempting him.
The Shape of You singer admits he was so busy recording and performing at the beginning of his career there was no time for partying and taking drugs, and when he feared the negative side of his success was beginning to take a hold he announced a long break and reconnected with his school girlfriend.
"I didn’t really have any growing up time into getting famous," he tells U.K. chat show host Jonathan Ross. "I’d had a long period of growing up normally but I think you need to, when you get into the industry, adjust to it and I didn’t adjust because I was constantly working on tour.
"And all the pitfalls that people read about, I just found myself slipping into all of them. Mostly like, substance abuse. I never touched anything. I started slipping into it and that’s why I took a year off and buggered off...
"It just started gradually happening and then some people took me to one side and were like, ‘Calm yourself down...' It’s all fun to begin with; it all starts off as a party and then you’re doing it on your own and it’s not, so that was a wake up call."
Ed also credits his inability to record or perform under the influence with helping him stay sober and clear for so long: "I just focused on other things. I focused on work and I can’t work under the influence. I can’t write songs under the influence, I can’t perform under the influence, so the more I worked the less (that happened).
"I’ve worked my whole life to get to where I am and you can’t lose that over something that you do in your spare time."
And his relationship with Cherry Seaborn has really helped balance the singer out: "I’ve rekindled with a girl I went to high school with and we live together now and I think that was a real help grounding me. I was a 25 year old in the music industry on tour so I just needed someone to balance me out."