What We Know About Elon Musk's Father

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Fans of "Saturday Night Live" were quick to notice that the host of its most recent episode to date, Elon Musk, appeared on the Mother's Day show and was joined briefly by his mom, Maye Musk (via CNN). Elon (who shares a child with singer Grimes) and his mother clearly have a close relationship, and she has taken to Twitter before to praise her son for his achievements. But as for the status of Elon Musk's relationship with his father, the answer to that is far more complicated.

"He was such a terrible human being," Elon told Rolling Stone when he covered the magazine in 2017. "You have no idea ... My dad will have a carefully thought-out plan of evil ... He will plan evil" (via Rolling Stone).

Musk was born to Errol and Maye Musk in June 1971 (via Insider). Together they had two more children, Kimbal and Tosca, but per Maye's autobiography, the abuse she faced at Errol's hands was more than she could bear (via Harper's Bazaar). She left Errol, and took her children with her (although, per Elon, he for a time lived alone with his father). Errol would later admit that the fault was at his hands.

"I had a very pretty wife, but there were always prettier, younger girls. I really loved Maye but I screwed up," he told Mail on Sunday (via InsideHook). 

Elon Musk's father is a controversial, mysterious figure

Despite Elon Musk's estrangement from his father, he admits that he has inherited various talents from Errol Musk. "I'm naturally good at engineering, that's because I inherited it from my father," Elon told Rolling Stone. "What's very difficult for others is easy for me. For a while, I thought things were so obvious that everyone must know this." 

Per Elon, Errol is "brilliant at engineering." As Ashlee Vance wrote in his book, "Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future," it was Errol's engineering business that netted him "one of the biggest houses in Pretoria [South Africa]." The business was so expansive it amassed "large projects such as office buildings, retail complexes, residential subdivisions, and an air force base" (via InsideHook).

Errol also, at one point, owned an emerald mine, a source of much controversy, particularly given that the Musks were a white family during apartheid South Africa. But Errol was himself prone to violence — he was allegedly charged with manslaughter when he shot and killed three in a group of people who broke into his Johannesburg home. He later got off on the charges due to self-defense.

More recently, Errol once again became a father — in 2018, he had a child with his own stepdaughter, Jana Bezuidenhout, who was 30 years old to Errol's 72.

A complicated family, and a complicated legacy, to say the least.