Born: October 7, 1959
Famous For: Rude comments and harsh judging style on American Idol and Pop Idol.
Key Accomplishments: Worked his way up from the mail room to become music industry executive; creative force behind American Idol.
Significant Quote: "I think you have to judge everything based on your personal taste. And if that means being critical, so be it. I hate political correctness. I absolutely loathe it."
Fun Quote: "Did you really believe you could become the American Idol? Well, then, you're deaf."
See Also Links:
- Biograph Channel
Simon Philip Cowell was born October 7, 1959 in Brighton, England, to Eric and Julie Cowell. He has three half-brothers, Michael, John and Tony, a half-sister, June, and a younger brother, Nicholas. John is a millionaire business developer; Tony was co-author of Cowell's autobiography; and Nicholas is a millionaire property magnate.
Cowell dropped out of school at the age of 15 and worked a series of menial jobs, but did not get along with co-workers and supervisors. His father, who was an executive at EMI Music Publishing, got him a job in the mail room. After working his way up to A & R assistant, Cowell set up his own label, Fanfare Records. He signed Sinitta Malone (his girlfriend at the time), who had two chart-topping hits, but in 1989 Fanfare's parent company folded. After being forced to move back in with his parents, he became an A & R consultant for BMG, where he enjoyed a number of successes including pop acts and novelty recordings such as Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and the Teletubbies. In 2002, Cowell set up another record label, Sysco Records, which later became part of Columbia Records and Sony BMG Music Entertainment.
Cowell was the producer and creative talent behind England's Pop Idol, which brought him worldwide fame and led to the creation of American Idol in the U.S. His harsh style of judging was a major reason for both shows' popularity. His fame grew, propelled by his signature phrase, "I don't mean to be rude, but..." , which was followed by a disparaging remark about a contestant's talent, personality or physical appearance.
In addition to Pop Idol, Cowell has been involved in several other British music and television phenomenons, including Il Devo, a pop operatic group; The X Factor, a television talent show; Grease is the Word, a televised audition to find the next Danny and Sandy for a British revival of Grease; and Rock Rivals, a drama loosely based on an X Factor type show. In the U.S. Cowell has been involved with the highly successful American Idol as well as American Inventor, America's Got Talent and Celebrity Duets.
In 2003, Cowell published a book, I Don't Mean to be Rude, But....The book recounts his childhood, his years in the music industry, his experiences on Pop Idol and American Idol, and his tips for finding success as a pop star. He has been a guest voice on The Simpsons and made a cameo appearance as himself in Scary Movie 3. He also appeared in Shrek 2 as a judge in Far, Far Away Idol.
Cowell has been dating Terri Seymour, a longtime friend, since 2002. He has stated on many occasions that he has no desire to settle down and have children. He is, however, the godfather of pop singer (and former girlfriend) Sinitta's baby.