Ed Sheeran's Fantastic Four: The old school pals who are the multimillionaire pop star's only friends because of his 'social anxiety'... and they're all on his payroll
- Ed Sheeran admitted fame is so stressful he’s cut his friends down to just four
- The pop star revealed he gets anxious socially, which has led him to surround himself with the old school friends who make up his Fantastic Four
- Videographer Nic Minns, photographer Zakary Walters, personal chef Josh Harte and confidante Lauren Baker-Woodside form the singer's inner circle
His record-breaking world tour has seen him play to 8.5 million people across 43 countries and earn £662 million.
But Ed Sheeran has admitted that fame has become so stressful that he’s cut his friends down to just four – and all are on his payroll.
The pop star revealed he gets anxious socially, which has led him to surround himself with the old school friends who make up his Fantastic Four.
‘I have social anxiety,’ said the 28-year-old, who will finish his 893-day tour tomorrow after playing four nights in Ipswich in his home county of Suffolk. ‘I don’t like large groups of people, which is ironic given I play shows to thousands of people.’
Ed Sheeran has admitted that fame has become so stressful that he’s cut his friends down to just four – and all are on his payroll
Videographer Nic Minns (left) worked on Ed’s film Songwriter. Right: Photographer Zakary Walters (right) documents life on tour
Now, The Mail on Sunday has discovered the identity of these friends, who have remained a tight-knit group since they were classmates at Thomas Mills High School in Framlingham.
Sheeran’s 2017 hit Castle On The Hill refers to ‘smoking hand-rolled cigarettes’ and getting drunk with his friends as a teenager by the town’s medieval castle.
In an interview, he said: ‘I’ve got three of the friends that are in the song on tour with me. They’re not really like a crew. They work in the day and then afterwards we drink red wine and watch The Wire.’
In fact, all four have been rewarded for their enduring loyalty with positions on the Sheeran payroll. Perhaps his closest confidante is Lauren Baker-Woodside, a 27-year-old English literature graduate from Glasgow University, whose parents run Framlingham’s Dancing Goat cafe.
‘She’s been touring with Ed for the last four or five years,’ her mother Wendy Baker, an artist and teacher, said. ‘She keeps him sane.
Confidante: Ed’s closest friend Lauren Baker-Woodside, a 27-year-old English literature graduate from Glasgow University
Personal chef: Josh Harte, who studied at Amsterdam University College, prepares the singer organic meals
‘He’s not in a band, so if he wasn’t with them he would be a little bit isolated. They used to walk to school together and have been friends since then.’
Another of Sheeran’s inner circle is Josh Harte, who studied at Amsterdam University College, before becoming Sheeran’s personal tour chef. A keen environmentalist, he ensures Sheeran eats organic food.
‘Ed eats mostly vegetarian with some seafood when we are by the ocean,’ he said. ‘All of the crew are provided with metal water bottles and we don’t purchase any drinks in plastic containers.’
Sheeran also has two photographers – Zakary Walters, and Nic Minns, both 28 – with him who were in his year at school. Zak, a keen skier and hiker, studied graphic design at Falmouth’s University College before becoming Sheeran’s ‘personal photographer’. He documents ‘the life and concerts of his Divide world tour’.
Meanwhile, Nic, a keen videographer, was a camera operator on Sheeran’s movie Songwriter, made by his cousin Murray Cummings, and took the first photograph of Ed and his wife Cherry Seaborn when they got engaged.
Last night, their former teacher Georgie Ross, who directed them in a school production of Grease, said: ‘I remember them well – they were a fantastic group of young people to teach.
‘It is wonderful to see them still working together all these years later with Ed. A real testament to their deep friendship.’