Ed Sheeran's new album: All you need to know about '=', Visiting Hours and his late friend Michael Gudinski

Ed Sheeran playing at Glastonbury 2017 new album =
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Ed Sheeran has announced the release date of his new album '=' and his first single to be released is called Visiting Hours - written in memory of his late friend Michael Gudinski.

The multi-award-winning singer-songwriter had taken some time out of music to focus on his family life in recent years - announcing two hiatus' one in 2016 and again in 2019.

But since Ed has been back from his latest break, he has a whole collection of songs up his sleeve, following on from his 2021 number one hit Bad Habits.

We look at the albums that have helped shape Ed Sheeran's music career, the heartfelt meaning behind his next single Visiting Hours, his late friend Micahel Gudinski and his daughter...

Who is Ed Sheeran's friend Michael Gudinski?

Michael Gudinski is known as a legendary producer and concert promoter who lived in Australia. He "died peacefully in his sleep" on the 2nd of March 2021 aged 68, according to Billboard.

He left behind his wife Sue, and his two grown-up children Matt and Kate.

Michael was a 'father figure' to Ed and his death is the inspiration behind the Suffolk-born star's new single, Visiting Hours.

For more than 40 years, his Frontier Touring has delivered the world's biggest acts down under including Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Liza Minnelli, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Guns N' Roses, Taylor Swift, Paul McCartney, Foo Fighters, Leonard Cohen, Kylie Minogue, Justin Beiber, and The Killers to name but a few.

Michael Gudinski

On hearing of his death, Ed Sheeran posted a heartfelt tribute on his Instagram which details just how much the star meant to him.

He described him as a 'tornado of joy' and recalled the time he bought a giant ice sculpture to celebrate Ed breaking the record for most tickets sold in Australia.

A photo posted by on

What is Visiting Hours by Ed Sheeran about?

Ed Sheeran revealed in his new album announcement that his first single to be released from it is Visiting Hours. The song is written about his friend Michael Gudinski - it's a loving tribute to his relationship with Michael, who he described in a touching Instagram post as "a father figure and mentor".

He explained, 'The next song off of it is called Visiting Hours, which I finished for my friend Michael who sadly passed away this year. If you preorder the album you get this song with it, but it’s also on all platforms from now too. Lots more music to come, but for now I hope you are as excited as me for this album. ‘=‘ everywhere from October 29th x'

The song was written by Ed especially for Michael's memorial service. Having confessed that he processes his emotions through songwriting, Ed explained how a two-week quarantine period in order to travel to the service prompted him to write the song.

Ed Sheeran and Michael Gudinski

He told the crowd of 7,000 that he was allowed to have his guitar while on lockdown, so he was able to process and create Visiting Hours.

He said, "In lockdown, I was able to have a guitar for quarantine and I always find the best way to process stuff is to write songs, be it good news, bad news, or whatever and here is a song I finished last week."

The track, features an emotive first verse that reads, 'I wish that heaven had visiting hours / So I could just show up / And bring good news / That she's getting older / And I wish that you'd met her / The things that she'll learn from me / I got them all from you,'

It's unconfirmed but understood to be referring to his daughter who was born in August 2020 and due to living on opposite sides of the world, it's likely that his promoter friend didn't get chnce to meet her before he died.

He also pays tribute to his own fear and his late friend's great advice, in the lines, 'Can we just talk a while until my worries disappear? / I'd tell you that I'm scared of turning out a failure / He'd say, 'Remember that the answer's in the love that we create.'

Before summing up his feelings with a loving promise that ends, 'And I will close the door, but I will open up my heart / And 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.'

What is Ed Sheeran's daughter's name?

Ed Sheeran and his wife Cherry Seaborn's daughter is called Lyra Antarctica Seaborn Sheeran.

His wife Cherry Seaborn gave birth to their first child together in August 2020 and Ed made the announcement to his fans on Instagram, having only revealed they were expecting a baby a month before.

The couple got engaged in 2018 and married in a secret ceremony back in 2019, with none of Ed’s showbiz pals around.

The happy couple kept things private with a quiet winter wedding with just close friends and family present.

Ed Sheeran and his wife Cherry Seaborn

When explaining the meaning behind her middle name, the Shape of You artist said the moniker Antarctica was inspired by a trip the couple took to the continent shortly before Seaborn became pregnant.

"When tour finished, I've basically toured every single continent but I've never been to Antarctica so that was always on our list," Ed revealed.

Ed Sheeran album names

Ed Sheeran has released four studio albums, which are all named after mathematical symbols + x ÷ and =, which is set to be released on October 29th 2021

'+' (pronounced 'plus') is the name of Ed Sheeran's debut album. It was released in 2011 and features the hit The A Team.

'x' (pronounced 'multiply' is Ed Sheeran's second album. It was released back in June 2014 and went on to become the second best-selling album in the world in 2015. It features award-winning single Thinking Out Loud.

'÷' (pronounced 'divide') is Ed Sheeran's third album that earned him the best-selling album worldwide in 2017. Hit singles Shape of You and Castle on the Hill feature on this album.

Released in 2019, his fourth studio album was called No.6 Collaborations Project. And it went to number one in various charts.

'=' (pronounced equals) is the name of Ed Sheeran's upcoming album set to be released on 29th October 2021. It features 14 tracks.

A photo posted by on

Speaking about his upcoming new album, Ed said, 'My 4th studio album ‘=‘ comes out October 29th, and is available to preorder today on all platforms, cd, vinyl and cassette.'

He explained the creative journey the album has taken since he started writing and recording it back in June 2017.

He continued, 'It's been a long, long process. I’ve been through love, loss, new life, grief and everything in between during the whole period of writing it, and I feel like it’s really a coming of age record. I’ve never been more proud of a body of work, or more excited/nervous for you all to hear it.'

Selina Maycock
Senior Family Writer

Selina is a Senior Family Writer for GoodtoKnow and has more than 16 years years of experience. She specialises in royal family news, including the latest activities of Prince George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and Lilibet. She also covers the latest government, health and charity advice for families. Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism, and gained her NCTJ and NCE qualifications. During her career, she’s also written for Woman, Woman's Own, Woman&Home, and Woman's Weekly as well as Heat magazine, Bang Showbiz - and the Scunthorpe Telegraph. When she's not covering family news, you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories (including award-winning scarecrows!)