HEARTBROKEN Ed Sheeran made an emotional return to the stage at his Christmas show after being away from the spotlight.
The Shape Of You singer sang a new track, Visiting Hours, which is about his daughter Lyra and late friend and music producer Michael Gudinski.
The 30 year old revealed he had written the new single earlier this year while processing the shock of losing Michael, who had worked on his record-breaking world tours.
Ed spoke to the crowd at his Merry Christmas Gathering – a special UK show at St John At Hackney church in London to raise funds for the Suffolk Music Foundation.
He said: "Everyone’s grandparents are passing away, so you prepare yourself for that.
"When that happened of course I was sad, but it is also part of life. But with my friend Michael it just happened instantly and the next day we weren’t talking.
"So I wrote this song in this kind of solitary moment where I didn’t want to speak to anyone about it. I wrote this song and it kind of helped me to get through it.
"Then I played it to his family and they said to put it on the album.
"I kept bumping into people that had heard the song and liked the song and it was super personal to me, but they found things that were personal to them.
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"I’m just really happy that this song has multiple meanings, and it feels like it belongs to everyone, not just me."
Ed's wife Cherry gave birth to Lyra in September last year.
The lyrics to the new song reveal his worries over raising his first-born child and that he is "scared of turning out a failure".
He also sang: "I wish that heaven had visiting hours.
"So I could just show and bring the news that she's getting older.
"And I wish that you'd met her. The things that she'd learn from me, I got them all from you."
Michael died on March 2 aged 68.
The friends met when Michael went to see Ed rehearsing for a show in Melbourne.
Ed previously said: "We were, first and foremost, friends. He was a father figure and mentor to me, but also we enjoyed the peaks of our touring career together in 2018, breaking the record for most tickets sold in Australia."
Michael brought some of the world's biggest acts to Australia with his pioneering company, Frontier Touring.
HEARTFELT LYRICS TO NEW SONG
WORDS to Visiting Hours that Ed wrote for his pal Michae
I wish that heaven had visiting hours so I could just show and bring the news that she's getting older
And I wish that you'd met her, the things that she'd learn from me I got them all from you
We just took a while and we'll put all the world to right
Little ones will grow and I'll still drink your favourite wine
As soon as they're going to close but I'll see you another day, so much has changed since you've been away
I wish that heaven had visiting hours so I could just swing by and ask your advice
What would you do in my situation? I haven't a clue how I'd even raise them
What would you do? Cause you always do what's right
We just took a while until my worries disappeared I'd tell you that I'm scared of turning out a failure
You'd say, "Remember that the answer's in the love that we create"
So much has changed since you've been away, I wish that heaven had visiting hours
And I would ask them if I could take you home
But I know what they'd say, that it's for the best
I would live life the way you told me and make it on my own, I will close the door but I will open up my heart
Everyone I love will know exactly who you are
Cause this is not goodbye, it is just til we meet again
So much has changed since you've been away
The superstars included Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stone and Frank Sinatra.
He also helped catapult Kylie Minogue to international stardom.
On the last date of his Divide world tour in August 2019, Ed told the audience in his home town of Ipswich he would be taking an extended break.
He said: "This is my last gig for probably 18 months."
He returned to the stage at the Capital FM Jingle Bell Ball on Sunday night, after announcing his fourth solo studio album '=' in August.
The follow-up to Divide, the Afterglow singer described it as a "coming of age record".
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