• Elton John and Eminem at the 43rd Grammy Award Show held at Staples Center Wednesday Feb. 21, 2001. (Los Angeles Times / Getty Images)Source: Los Angeles Times / Getty Images
The legendary musician and controversial rapper became friends after performing a duet at the 2001 Grammy Awards.
Michaela Morgan

29 Mar 2017 - 11:27 AM  UPDATED 29 Mar 2017 - 11:27 AM

Iconic musician Sir Elton John has defended rapper Eminem against years of allegations of homophobia, saying that he’s simply “misunderstood”.

Speaking to Zane Lowe in an interview for Beats 1, Elton said he was “floored” when he first heard The Marshall Mathers LP, released in 2000.

“I thought, 'how could anyone think this is [what he really thinks]'? He’s just writing about the way things are. Not how he thinks, but the way things are.

“I’m always a supporter of the people that are getting trashed. For me Eminem was never homophobic. I’ll fight for anyone who is misunderstood and misrepresented by the idiots out there,” he told Lowe.  

Elton John sparked controversy by performing a duet with Eminem at the 2001 Grammy Awards. GLAAD issued a statement at the time saying that the LGBT+ rights organisation was “appalled that John would share a stage with Eminem, whose words and actions promote hate and violence against gays and lesbians.”

In the song "Criminal", Eminem raps: “My words are like a dagger with a jagged edge that’ll stab you in the head, whether you’re a f*g or lez, Or the homosex, hermaph or a trans-a-vest, Pants or dress, hate f*gs? The answer’s ‘yes'”.

Eminem has previously defended his use of the word ‘f**got’, saying he “never really equated those words with being gay” in a 2013 interview with Rolling Stone.

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“It was more like calling someone a bitch or a punk or asshole… I poke fun at other people, myself,” he said.

“But the real me sitting here right now talking to you has no issues with gay, straight, transgender, at all.

"I'm glad we live in a time where it's really starting to feel like people can live their lives and express themselves."

In 2010, the rapper also declared his support for marriage equality, telling the New York Times: "If two people love each other, then what the hell? I think that everyone should have the chance to be equally miserable, if they want."