Simon Cowell

Simon Cowell Biography

Music Producer, Reality Television Star (1959–)
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Simon Cowell is a record producer and media personality known for his scathing critical remarks as a judge on the TV competition shows 'American Idol,' 'The X Factor' and 'America's Got Talent.'

Who Is Simon Cowell?

Simon Cowell was born on October 7, 1959, in London, England. Cowell started his career 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 nine seasons as a judge on American Idol. He started judging The X Factor in 2011 and signed on to judge America's Got Talent in 2015.

Simon Cowell Photo

Simon Cowell

Net Worth

As of 2019 Cowell has an estimated net worth of $550 million. 

TV Shows

'Pop Idol' and 'American Idol'

In 2001 Cowell teamed up with Simon Fuller to produce a show in which the public chose Britain's next big music performance star. The show, Pop Idol, debuted in the U.K. 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 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), Fantasia Barrino (2004), Jennifer Hudson (2004), Carrie Underwood (2005), Taylor Hicks (2006), Jordin Sparks (2007) and David Cook (2008), among others.

Cowell became 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 The X Factor. The group also produced records for many of the performers on Cowell's shows, including Leona Lewis and Il Divo.

'The X Factor'

In 2011 Cowell helped import his hit British series The X Factor to America, with the promise of a $5 million recording contract for 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 original fellow judges included legendary recording executive L.A. Reid, former American Idol judge and singer Paula Abdul and singer Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls fame.

The X Factor kicked off its second season in September 2012 with a few lineup changes. Pop star Britney Spears and actress-singer Demi Lovato joined the show as judges, replacing Abdul and Scherzinger. For the third season, the series made yet another change to the members of the judges panel, replacing Reid and Spears with Kelly Rowland and Paulina Rubio. Mario Lopez also stepped in as the primary host for the show after co-hosting with Khloe Kardashian during the second season.

Fox decided not to renew the show for season 4 after Cowell announced he would focus on judging the British series.

'America's Got Talent'

Cowell has served as the executive producer of AGT since its inception in 2006. In October 2015 it was announced that he would be replacing Howard Stern as a judge for season 11 of the popular show, alongside Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum and Mel B.

'The Greatest Dancer'

In early 2019 Cowell launched his latest TV venture, The Greatest Dancer, for BBC One. This time, competitors performed a variety of routines for "Dance Captains" Cheryl, Oti Mabuse and Matthew Morrison. Prior to the end of its initial run, it was announced that The Greatest Dancer had been renewed for a second season.

Industry Recognition

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.

Relationships, Son & Personal

After dating entertainment journalist Terri Seymour, Cowell got engaged to Idol makeup artist Mezhgan Hussainy in 2010. However, the couple broke off their engagement the following year, with Cowell noting, "We came to the conclusion that I'm a hopeless boyfriend." He went on to briefly date actress and model Carmen Electra.

By 2013 the famed TV personality was secretly seeing New York City socialite Lauren Silverman, then married to a friend of Cowell's. When their affair resulted in a pregnancy, Silverman's husband filed for divorce. Cowell became a father with the birth of son Eric on February 14, 2014.

Despite earlier insisting that he never wanted children, Cowell had changed his tune by the time his own son came into the world. "Eric is absolutely incredible and so funny," he told the Daily Star. "[Being a father] is the best thing that ever happened to me."

In 2019 Cowell revealed that he had adopted a vegan diet as part of a healthier lifestyle.

Early Life & Career

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 set up by his father, before landing in the mailroom at his father's company, EMI Music Publishing. Cowell then earned a position as assistant to an A&R executive at EMI in 1979, after which he became a 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 until folding 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 U.K. and United States.

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