How are Eminem and Elton John friends? The story of the rapper's almost 20 year friendship

17 October 2020, 14:00

As Eminem celebrates his birthday, we delve into the US rapper's long-standing friendship with legendary British artist Elton John.

Eminem is a controversial rapper, who's known for having run-ins with everyone in music from Mariah Carey to Machine Gun Kelly.

But the star is also known for his unlikely friendship with Elton John, with their relationship spanning almost two decades.

Find out how Eminem and Elton John first became friends, and why their relationship has endured across the years.

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Eminem and Elton John
Eminem and Elton John. Picture: 1.Kevin Winter/Getty Images 2. Dave Simpson/WireImage/ Getty Images

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When did Eminem and Elton John first meet?

The pair's unlikely friendship first kicked off at the 2001 GRAMMY Awards, where they performed one of Eminem's biggest hits.

Stan, which was originally recorded with British singer Dido and released on 21 November 2000, was a huge crossover hit.

Watch their performance here:

The rapper - whose career was going from strength to strength after the release of The Marshall Mathers LP - was also a hugely divisive star, with his lyrics criticised for their use of violence, misogyny and homophobia.

When the pair duetted on the hit single at the awards ceremony, it was already quite unexpected, but their choice to hold hands at the end of the performance made an even stronger statement.

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Elton John and Eminem perform together for the first time at the 2001 GRAMMY Awards
Elton John and Eminem perform together for the first time at the 2001 GRAMMY Awards. Picture: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Speaking of their first meeting, Elton John revealed on The Graham Norton Show: "We became friends. We've been amazing friends ever since. He's an amazing guy. [...] I just adore him."

According to reports, the superstar rapper didn't even know Elton John was gay ahead of meeting him... and didn't care. It nonetheless ended up making the performance all the more powerful.

"Of course, I heard of Elton John," he told MTV News in 2004. "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."

Talking about their decision to hug and hold hands, the 8 Mile star said: "It was more so just a statement, period".

He added about the preconceptions about him: "If you really think that about me, you really don't know Marshall. You really don't know me."

READ MORE: How did Sam Fender and Elton John become friends?

Eminem hugging Elton John at the 2001 BRIT Awards
Eminem hugging Elton John at the 2001 BRIT Awards. Picture: Getty

Is Elton John Eminem's sponsor?

It is widely reported that Eminem suffered from a serious drug addiction which almost killed him, and saw him take up to 30 Vicodin a day.

However, not everyone knows that the iconic piano man was instrumental to his recovery.

Elton reveals in his Me memoir: "I'm Eminem's AA sponsor. Whenever I ring to check in on him, he always greets me the same way: 'Hello, you cunt', which I guess is very Eminem."

"When I first wanted to get sober, I called [Elton] and spoke to him about it,", Eminem told The Guardian in 2009. "He's somebody who's in the business and can identify and relate to the lifestyle and how hectic things can be. He understands ... the pressure and any other reasons that you want to come up with for doing drugs."

"I reached out to him and told him, 'Look, I'm going through a problem and I need your advice.'"

And it wasn't just advice he got either. The rapper has also revealed how Elton would call him every day during the early days of his recovery from wherever he was in the world.

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What rude item did Eminem gift Elton John?

It is well documented that Eminem gave Elton John and his partner David Furnish a really saucy gift to mark their civil partnership in 2005.

As the Tiny Dancer legend revealed on The Graham Norton Show: "I got this package from Eminem, and it just shows you how homophobic he isn't... We had two diamond encrusted c*** rings on velvet cushions... and I have to say they, have remained unused."

Here's to another 20 years of friendship!

WATCH: Sam Fender & Elton John duet on Will We Talk? at Oscars viewing after party