Marshall Bruce Mathers is Eminem’s biological father. He died in June 2019 after suffering a heart attack.
TMZ was the first to report on June 26 that Mathers had died at the age of 67. Mathers is alleged to have abandoned Eminem when the rapper was an infant, something that is spoken about in his song, “Cleaning Out My Closet.” While in Eminem’s breakout song, “My Name Is,” he rapped, “When you see my dad, tell him I slit his throat in this dream I had.”
At various points during Eminem’s career, Mathers had publicly tried to reconnect with his son. While Eminem has maintained that he has never spoken to his father and that he never wants to.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Mathers Was in a Band Named Daddy Warbucks With Eminem’s Mother Debbie When the Rapper Was Born
Mathers had been in a band named Daddy Warbucks with Eminem’s mother, Debbie, prior to the singer’s birth. When Eminem was three, Mathers moved to San Diego, California where he had two other children, Michael and Sarah. Eminem’s parents officially divorced in 1975. Eminem was raised on the east side of Detroit.
In an April 1999 interview with Rolling Stone, Eminem said that he attempted to contact his father via letters during his teenage years. Eminem said his mother told him the letters came back “return to sender.” In the interview, Eminem mentioned that he’d heard his father was trying to contact him as the rapper’s career had just taken off.
2. In 2001, Mathers Began Giving Interviews in an Attempt to Talk to His Son
Mathers gave an interview to the Daily Mirror newspaper in February 2001 in which he issued a plea for his son to contact. Mathers said told the tabloid that he didn’t want money from his son.
Mathers said, “I desperately want to meet my son and tell him that I love him. I’m not interested in his money. I just want to talk to him. I want him to know that I’m here for him if he lets me back into his life.”
3. Mathers Privacy Was Invaded in 2000 When Tabloids Began Circulating Photos of Him at AA Meetings
A September 2000 feature in the San Diego Reader on Bruce Mathers said that he had been in the process of a bidding war among tabloids in order to sell his story. The Reader referred to Mathers as a “factory worker from Chula Vista.” Chula Vista is a community just south of San Diego, close to the Mexican border.
The article also named Mathers’ girlfriend as then 40-year-old Teresa Harbin. Mathers blamed Eminem’s mother’s constant moving during the rappers’ adolescence as the reason he had no contact with his son. The piece mentioned that tabloids had at the time circulated photos of Mathers attended an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
4. Mathers Wrote an Open Letter to His Son in 2002 in Which He Said, ‘You Won’t Remember Me, Though I Held You in My Arms When You Were a Baby’
Mathers’ open letter to his son was published by the Daily Mirror in 2002. In the letter, Mathers wrote in part, “Hello, son. You won’t remember me, though I held you in my arms when you were a baby. You think I dumped you and your mother and never came looking for you.” Mathers goes on to say that Eminem is “convinced” that his father is a drunk.
Mathers goes on to say, “The one ambition left in my life is to give you a hug and tell you I’ve always loved you.” Mathers says that he would go to any corner of the earth to meet his son. Mathers adds that Eminem’s two half-siblings, Michael and Sarah, are desperate to meet their brother.
5. Eminem’s Mother Said Her Husband’s ‘Erratic Behavior’ Was the Reason for Their Split
A 2000 Salon feature on Eminem detailed that upon the rappers’ birth, Mathers was due to take a job as a hotel manager in North Dakota. The article says that due to Mathers’ “erratic behavior,” Debbie Mathers split from her husband.