Simon Cowell biography
Born Simon Phillip Cowell on October 7, 1959 in London, England, Simon Cowell started in the mailroom at EMI Music Publishing. He worked as a record producer, talent scout and consultant within the music industry before producing the hit British TV show Pop Idol and its U.S. counterpart, American Idol. Cowell's scathing comments were famous during his ten seasons as a judge on American Idol. He started judging The X Factor in 2011.
Simon Phillip Cowell was born on October 7, 1959 in London, England. His father, Eric Philip Cowell, was an estate agent developer and music industry executive. His mother, Julie Brett, was a former ballet dancer and socialite.
Cowell attended school at Dover College, but dropped out at 16. He floated in and out of jobs, sabotaging several interviews for jobs set up by his father. He finally landed a job at his father's company as a mailroom clerk at EMI Music Publishing. He managed to earn a position as an assistant to an A&R executive at EMI in 1979, where he was promoted and given the job of talent scout. Cowell left EMI during the early 1980s to form E&S Music with his boss at EMI, Ellis Rich.
The company created several hits, but Cowell left by mutual agreement a few years later. In 1985, he and a partner formed the independent label Fanfare Records, which enjoyed short-lived success. The company folded in 1989. In financial straits, Cowell was forced to move back in with his family.
Undeterred, Cowell signed on as a consultant with BMG Records later that same year. He moved back into his own place, and gradually climbed the corporate ladder at BMG. He managed to sign a string of successful acts for the company, selling more than 150 million records and 70 top-charting singles in the UK and United States.
Pop Idol and American Idol
In 2001, Cowell teamed up with Simon Fuller to produce a show in which the public chooses Britain's next big music performance star. The show, Pop Idol, debuted in the UK and promised a BMG record deal to the winner. With Cowell as a judge notorious for reducing contestants to tears, the show was an instant success, drawing more than 10,000 would-be stars to audition for the show.
The American version, American Idol, debuted in 2002, with Cowell once again judging alongside singer Paula Abdul and producer Randy Jackson. The show drew in a record number of viewers for Fox, in addition to producing pop stars Kelly Clarkson (2002), Ruben Studdard (2003) and Clay Aiken (2003), Fantasia Barrino (2004), Jennifer Hudson (2004), Carrie Underwood (2005), Taylor Hicks (2006), Jordin Sparks (2007), and most recently David Cook (2008) and David Archuleta (2008).
Cowell has become known for combining his music and television interests. He set up another company, SYCOtv, in 2002. The company created the television shows American Inventor, America's Got Talent, and X-Factor. The group also produces records for many of the performers on Cowell's shows including albums for Leona Lewis and Il Divo.
The X Factor
In 2011, Cowell helped import his hit British series The X Factor to America. The show is a talent search that awards a $5 million recording contract to the winner. Cowell even gave up his judging duties on American Idol to sit front and center at The X Factor auditions. Television viewers loved this competition, which proved to be a success in the ratings. Cowell's fellow judges included legendary recording executive L.A. Reid, former American Idol judge and singer Paula Abdul, and singer Nicole Scherzinger of Pussycat Dolls fame.
The X Factor kicked off its second season in September 2012 with a few line-up changes. Pop star Britney Spears and actress-singer Demi Levato joined the show as judges, replacing Abdul and Scherzinger.
In 2004, Entertainment Weekly named Simon Cowell as one of the Top Entertainers of the Year. In 2006, he renewed his contract with American Idol for five more seasons; the deal gave him a yearly salary of $40 million. That same year, he was named Variety's UK Personality of the Year.
In 2007, Cowell earned the No. 3 slot on the Forbes TV Faces List, and No. 21 on Forbes' Celebrity 100 Power List. He also created an American Idol spin-off, Idol Gives Back, a two-episode special that helped to provide aid to children in Africa and the American poor. The show raised $76 million for charity.