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Music

How Elton John helped Eminem get clean

Having been through the perks and pitfalls, the ecstatic highs and bleak lows of superstardom, Elton John has become something of a father figure for the entertainment elite.

Using his past experience with drug addiction and a self-destructive relationship with a hedonistic lifestyle, Elton John has profusely befriended peers in need to help them through personal struggles. One of the more unlikely of Elton’s mentees was the controversial rapper Eminem. 

As is immediately apparent when perusing Eminem’s provocative and reflective back catalogue, the highly acclaimed rapper came from tough beginnings and struggled with addiction for most of his pre-fame years and his subsequent rise to prominence. 

The unlikely nature of the pairing was elicited by allegations of homophobic lyrics written earlier in Eminem’s career. The artists’ first collaboration, at the 2001 Grammy awards, was somewhat spoiled by such allegations. However, it seems that the rapper’s controversial lyrics were only sung in jest; eight years later, the pair were unveiled as close friends and confidantes. 

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“I talk to Elton a lot,” Eminem told the Detroit Metro Times. “Me and him have had similar lives and stuff. We became friends, and I talk to him about things, career-wise.”

The unlikely companionship became something of a lifeline for Eminem after the release of his 2004 album Encore. The popular release, home to beloved classics’ Mockingbird’, ‘Just Lose It’, and ‘Like Toy Soldiers’, marked a difficult period for Eminem. He found himself in the trough of a painkiller addiction which was compounded by a death-defying methadone overdose. 

“When I first wanted to get sober, I called [Elton] and spoke to him about it,” Eminem said. “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.’”

Eminem’s road to recovery wasn’t simple or immediate, but with the support of friends like Elton John, he managed to kick his various addictions for good in July 2009. Earlier this month, he celebrated 13 years of clean living. 

Watch Elton John and Eminem’s collaborative performance of ‘Stan’ at the 43rd Grammy Awards in 2001.