The truth about Eminem and Elton John’s relationship

On the surface, Elton John and Eminem have a very unlikely friendship. Even so, they have been very close friends since their performance of Eminem’s song “Stan” at the 2001 Grammy Awards, which came at a time when the rapper was facing criticism for perceived homophobia. At the end of their duet, they held hands, which became a memorable moment, in part, because John is openly gay. In a 2004 MTV interview, Eminem said, “I didn’t know he was gay. I didn’t know anything about his personal life. I didn’t really care. But being that he was gay and he had my back, I think it made a statement in itself saying that he understood where I was coming from.”

In March 2017 Apple Music interview, John said, “For me, Eminem was never homophobic. I mean, I listened to the whole of the ‘Marshall Mathers’ album when I drove to a show in South Hampton.” He continued, “I was floored by him and I thought how could anyone think this is … he’s just writing about the way things are. Not how he thinks, [but] the way things are.” He even referred to the rapper by his given name, Marshall Mathers. “I became very good friends with Marshall,” he said, declaring, “I’ll fight for anyone who is misunderstood and misrepresented by the idiots out there.” 

And that’s what he’s done for years, speaking out publicly in support of Eminem in addition to being there for him privately during some tough times.

Elton John has defended Eminem against accusations that he's homophobic

In December 2017, Elton John appeared on The Graham Norton Show, where he talked about the origin of his friendship with Eminem. The “Rocket Man” singer recalled, “Well, he was accused of being homophobic by so many people because of his lyrics, which I thought was nonsense. And I came out and supported the fact that he isn’t [homophobic]. I appeared on the Grammy’s with him doing ‘Stan.'”

The Grammy winner shared, “We became friends and we’ve been amazing friends ever since. He’s an amazing guy. I spoke to him last week. I interviewed him last week for a magazine.” He added, “I just adore him.” Then, he shared a personal story about a gift Eminem sent to him and husband David Furnish, revealing, “When David and I did our civil partnership, ummm… I got this package from Eminem and it shows you how homophobic he isn’t. We had two diamond-encrusted c**k rings on velvet cushions.” He divulged, “And I have to say, they have remained unused.”

Elton John is Eminem's AA sponsor

In his 2019 autobiography Me, Elton John wrote: “… I’m Eminem’s AA sponsor. Whenever I ring to check in on him, he always greets me the same way: ‘Hello, you c**t’, which I guess is very Eminem.” In a 2009 Detroit Metro Times interview, when asked about the person he’s “learned the most from in [his] life,” Eminem named John.

He shared, “I talk to Elton a lot. We became friends and I talk to him about things, career wise. And he had a substance abuse problem in the past. So when I first wanted to get sober, I called him and spoke to him about it because, you know, he’s somebody who’s in the business and can identify and relate to the lifestyle and how hectic things can be.” Specifically, Eminem commented, “He understands, like, the pressure and any other reasons that you wanna come up with for doing drugs, you know.”

The Academy Award winner said, “Me and him have had similar lives and stuff. So I reached out to him and told him, ‘Look, I’m going through a problem and I need your advice.'” 

In February 2011, John told Rolling Stone: “I love him. I don’t see much of Marshall, but we speak a lot. He’s really worked very hard at [sobriety], and it’s changed him so much.” John shared, “I’m so happy for him.”

Eminem refers to Elton John as his 'uncle'

The pair talked about Eminem’s sobriety when Elton John asked him questions for Interview Magazine in December 2017. At the time, Eminem had reached nine years of sobriety, with John telling him “Your sobriety day is in my diary. I’m so proud of you. I’m 27 years clean, and when you get clean, you see things in a different way. It makes your life so much more manageable. It seems to have made all the difference — I can tell when I speak to you.” 

The interview concluded with a special moment. John said, “I’m so happy you exist in the world, and I’m just so proud of you. You’ve worked so hard on yourself, and no one deserves this more than you, Marshall, and I love you from a long way away, okay?” In response, Eminem said, “Thank you, Elton. I love you, too.”

While the two seem to keep in touch consistently away from the spotlight, Eminem shared a photo backstage at the 2020 Academy Awards, where John took home a trophy and Eminem surprised everyone with a “Lose Yourself” performance. Along with the photo, he wrote, “I got to see my Uncle Elton tonight at the Oscars. Congrats on your win too, Sir!”

Just like their 2001 Grammy performance, the pair’s friendship is surprising for some pop culture enthusiasts — on the surface, at least — but they really do have a lot in common. Now, they just need to record a song together.

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