If you have ever watched shows like “American Idol,” The “X Factor UK,” or “America’s Got Talent,” then you know Simon Cowell. His full name is Simon Phillip Cowell, and as a talent show judge, he has a knack for making blunt and candid comments when scouting for talent.
Besides his life in the entertainment business, Cowell is also the founder and singular owner of the British entertainment company Syco. The all-around entertainment genius has not had the best of luck in relationships and was involved in an adultery case.
Here’s the crazy life of Simon Cowell.
Simon’s Early Life
Simon Phillip Cowell was born in Lambeth, London, on October 7, 1959. The young lad was raised by his mother, Julie Brett, a ballet dancer, and socialite. His father, Eric Phillip Cowell, was an estate agent, property developer, and music industry executive.
Cowell’s father was from a primarily Jewish family but did not discuss his ancestry with his kids. His wife had a Christian upbringing, which translated into how she raised the kids. Cowell has a little brother, Nicholas, and four half-siblings from his mother’s previous marriage, John, Tony, Michael, and June.
Cowell Left College at 16
Cowell attended Radlett Preparatory School. Like his brother, he also went to Independent Dover College. At 16, he left school after taking the GCE O level exams. After passing English Language and Literature, Simon enrolled in Windsor Technical College.
While at Windsor, Cowell gained another degree in sociology. Now in his teens, he worked some menial jobs, including his job as a runner in the 1980 horror movie The Shining by Stanley Kubrick. Unfortunately, the young star did not get along well with co-workers.
He Worked in the Mail Room
Cowell’s dad, an executive at EMI Music Publishing, managed to get his son a job in the mail room. However, after several failed attempts to get promoted, Cowell left the company and worked briefly as an Estate agent. He later returned to EMI because he hated the job.
After working with EMI for a while, Cowell finally got the chance to work in a different department. In 1979, he met his mentor Pete Waterman while working on his new role, scouting performers to sing newly released songs. Cowell always says he is grateful to Waterman for giving him a start in the music business.
The Birth of His First Record Label
After leaving EMI, Cowell began working with his former colleague Ellis Rich, but that didn’t work out, so the partnership ended. In 1985, Cowell decided to work with Lain Burton, creating Fanfare Records. The two proceeded to find an artist to sign.
After scouting for unique talents, Cowell finally found Sinitta and immediately signed her into the record label. Sinitta’s song “So Macho” was a number two hit, followed by her catchy single “Toyboy,” written by Waterman, Simon’s former mentor. Many other hits followed during the 1980s.
From Bankruptcy to New Ventures
The record label enjoyed many successes, but the company almost became bankrupt, so it folded up in 1989. Later that same year, Cowell found a job with BMG as an Artist and Repertoire consultant. He also set up S Records under BMG.
Cowell had a fresh start in the music business by setting up novelty records with acts like the puppets Zig and Zag, Word Wrestling Federation, and Power Rangers. In 1995, Cowell convinced actors Robson Green and Jerome Flynn from the UK TV series Soldier Soldier to sign with him and record the theme song “Unchained Melody” for the show.
No.1 in the UK Music Charts
The recording by the duo bore the name Robson & Jerome, and the song quickly made it to number 1 on the UK music charts. The song remained at the top of the charts for seven weeks straight and became the highest-selling single of 1995.
Robson and Jerome released the self-titled album in the latter part of the same year, becoming the best-selling album of 1995. They proceeded to release another album and two singles before splitting up. According to Cowell, the group made him his first million, and later, he signed acts like Westlife, Five, and Teletubbies.
Cowell Becomes a Talent Show Judge
In 2001, Cowell began his journey as a talent show judge on the first series of Pop Idol. Cowell and the show creator Simon Fuller successfully pitched the idea to ITV Controller of Entertainment Claudia Rosencrantz, and she loved the idea.
Maggie Brown from the Guardian stated, “the show became a seminal reality/entertainment format once on air that autumn.” Cowell’s S Records signed the top two finalists of the first season of Pop Idol, Will Young and Gareth Gates. The two released No.1 UK hits and had the top 2 best-selling singles in the 2000s.
The Beginning of Simon Cowell’s Love Life
Simon’s relationship started in the 1970s with ex-model Jackie St Clair. Though the relationship didn’t last long, the two maintained a solid friendship after they split. Jackie had a bitter quarrel with one of Cowell’s ex’s, Sinitta.
The Famous 80’s star Paula Hamilton was next in line, and the two started dating around 1977. Paula stated that she and Simon were high school lovers. In an interview with The Daily Mail, she explained that Simon defended her in school when other kids and teachers picked on her because she couldn’t read until age 11. Cowell also took her virginity at age 16.
An Odd Romance
Simon met Sinitta in the 80s, and the two instantly hit it off. They had a secret on-and-off relationship for over two decades. When New Magazine asked the pop goddess if her relationship with Simon was over, she said it’s never really over. However, the birth of her son Eric was what ended the relationship officially.
In 1995, Cowell and model Louise Payne dated for about three years. Simon wasn’t too mature at the time because he popped the question to Louise just three weeks after they began dating. Later, he broke the engagement after realizing he wasn’t ready to have kids.
Georgina Law, Terri Seymour, and Dannii Minogue
Simon had a short fling with a second model Georgina Law in 2000. Later, she sold a story to the tabloids about how she met Simon at Spearmint Rhino Club. Georgina also affirmed that they weren’t official boyfriend and girlfriend. “We had a casual relationship for about six months,” she stated.
In 2002, Terri Seymour dated the music mogul for a long while. Rumors spread that Simon gave Terri a £ 6 million parting gift. They remained very good friends, and they still communicate to this day. Cowell had a short fling with Dannii Minogue in 2007. The superstar judge, in an interview, admitted that he was attracted to her feminine charm.
Mezhgan, the Makeup Artist, and Carmen Electra (2009-2012)
Mezhgan Hussainy was one of the makeup artists on American Idol, and Cowell quickly became infatuated with the beautiful brunette. They started dating in 2009, and Simon proposed in 2010. However, he called off the relationship in 2012. The 37-year-old revealed that Simon was too busy for their relationship.
In 2012, Simon met guest judge Carmen Electra on Britain’s Got Talent. The two soon started dating, but the relationship ended after Simon cheated on her with his current wife, Lauren Silverman. Despite her treatment, Carmen still called Simon “awesome and very charming.”
A Messy Story
One of the most controversial stories of Simon’s love life can be traced to the Socialite Lauren Silverman. They met each other for the first time back in 2004. Lauren was on vacation in Barbados with her first husband, a real estate mogul and good friend of Cowell, Andrew Silverman.
At that time, Simon was very attracted to Lauren, but he didn’t act on his feelings because he knew she was married. He proceeded to date women like Seymour and Mezhgan, the makeup artist, but his engagement to her ended in less than a year.
The Secret Relationship with Lauren
The music and business mogul stated that his engagement to Mezhgan was a colossal mistake, and he had moved on. Simon finally decided to act on his feelings and started dating Lauren secretly though she was still married to her ex-husband.
Things changed for the pair when Silverman became pregnant in 2013, forcing them to reveal the relationship. Shortly after the news became public, Andrew filed for a divorce, citing adultery as the primary reason, and he named Simon as the co-respondent.
Andrew Hated the Publicity
In an interview with New York Observer, Andrew said he didn’t like the publicity he was getting from the divorce. In his words, “Privacy has tremendous value. I’ve tried to be as quiet as possible even though everyone wants to hear about this hoopla.”
The couple finalized their divorce in November of the same year. Lauren and Andrew had a son named Adam. Hence, a divorce settlement with strict rules lasted until 2015. In the divorce settlement, Simon was not allowed to come close to the couple’s son, or he would pay a fine of $50,000.
Lauren and Simon’s Son
Eric was born on Valentine’s Day in 2014, and Simon affirmed that being a father has changed him completely. He spoke to the “Daily Mail in a brief interview and said, “People have asked me if I have changed since I have had Eric, and of course you do; you can’t help it.”
Although the significant change was not easy for the couple, they are still considering having another baby. According to the Syco Entertainment boss, he had a brother when he was younger, so it wouldn’t hurt to have two or three more kids.
Cowell Says ‘It Just Happened’
While speaking about his son Eric in an interview with Extra, Cowell said he hoped his son would inherit his business one day. The excited dad said, “I think Eric’s probably the best incentive I’ve ever had to keep everything running as well as I possibly can over the next few years.”
Though he was excited, Simon talked about the affair that brought Eric into the world. He explained that the affair was not something he was proud of, and he had no intentions of hurting anyone in the process. “It just happened,” Cowell said. Over the past few years, Andrew and Simon have been able to bury the hatchet and move on.
Andrew and Lauren’s Marriage had Problems
According to some rumors, Andrew and Lauren faced problems in their marriage long before she had an affair with Simon. For starters, Andrew’s parents were not so fond of their daughter-in-law to the extent that they did not attend their wedding ceremony.
Andrew was absent for most of their relationship. He would then try to make up for being absent by showering Lauren with gifts and planning lavish trips. However, he would ditch those trips for business, leaving Lauren alone.
Affairs with Different Women
Lauren was alone on one of those trips planned by her husband when she met Simon and got close to him. She also left their son alone for long periods to go on those trips. When Lauren recounted her part of the story, she claimed Andrew was also guilty.
According to the brunette, her ex-husband also traveled the world partying with different women. She explained that his multiple trips allowed her to get closer to Simon. After the divorce, Andrew married a lady who looked similar to Lauren, Samantha Zimmerman.
Unaware of the Affair
Lauren and Andrew always planned trips together, and on one of those trips, Andrew introduced his wife to his friend Simon. Unknowingly to him, Lauren started having an affair under his nose. Still ignorant of the whole situation, he decided to do something nice for his lovely wife.
Andrew upgraded his wife’s engagement ring on one of those trips, but devastating news struck after seeing pictures of Lauren and Simon kissing on a yacht. In Lauren’s defense, her now ex-husband was aware of her relationship with Cowell, and they had an understanding.
Simon Finally Proposes
For a long time, Simon claimed that he would never get married, but Lauren changed everything. On Christmas Eve, the 62-year-old American Idol judge shocked fans worldwide when he proposed to Lauren, 44, while on vacation at Sandy Lake Resort, Barbados.
The Barbados resort was the same place they met back in 2004, and the proposal was a quiet one. Eric, 8, and Adam, her 16-year-old son, were at the vacation spot. The two are currently planning an intimate wedding that may happen in his large London home in Holland Park.
Weight Loss, Bike Accident, and Botox Disaster
Cowell has reportedly lost about 56 pounds owing to his healthy eating lifestyle and “drinking tons of water.” He also attributed his weight loss to cycling on his electronic bikes. However, in 2020, Simon had a major accident while riding one of his e-bikes.
Cowell broke his back and had to undergo a five-hour surgery with metal rods placed in his back. Thankfully, Lauren was there to help him get through that phase. The blunt judge is famous for undergoing cosmetic procedures, but after a Botox procedure went wrong, the actor decided to stay away from fillers.
Simon’s Net Worth
As of 2022, Simon Cowell’s net worth is approximately £600 million. As a renowned TV personality responsible for producing various talent shows, it’s no news why he would accumulate so much wealth. In addition, Cowell is also an entrepreneur.
He is the CEO of Syco Entertainment and Syco Music, British entertainment companies focused on TV production and music. In 2020, Forbes listed Simon as the 35th wealthiest celebrity worldwide. Cowell earns between £35-71million yearly from all businesses combined.
American Idol Welcomes Him
In the first season of American Idol in 2002, Simon became the guest judge. He immediately became popular on the show owing to his overly critical and blunt comments toward contestants. Many compared Cowell to TV hosts Judge Judy and Anne Robinson from The Weakest Link.
Cowell regarded the 1980s British TV critic Nina Myskow in the New Faces talent show as his primary influence. As time passed, Cowell’s prominence grew, and soon his signature phrase “I don’t mean to be rude, but…,” followed by a blunt statement targeted at contestants’ outlook, talent, and personality, became well-known.
Every Country’s Version of Idol
Many of Cowell’s memorable one-liners resulted from the coaching he received from his publicist Max Clifford. In 2003, Cowell also appeared on the one-off World Idol show, and he did not seize to showcase his uptight personality.
At this point, it was clear that every country’s version of Idol needed its version of Simon Cowell. Every judge on these shows had their unique personality: the sweet or kind judge, the judge that wasn’t too mean, and the very mean judge. Cowell falls in the third category, and the three personalities balance themselves.
The Creation Syco
In 2005, Cowell established a new company called Syco” which was divided into three departments: Syco Music, Syco TV, and Syco Film. The genius record label boss returned to the music scene after signing the powerful pop group II Divo, composed of three opera singers and one pop singer.
Cowell was inspired by the success of II Divo and decided to set up a child version called Angelis, a British classical singing group of 6 talented kids. The new group completely obliterated similar groups that emerged during Christmas in 2006.
Simon Left American Idol in 2010
In 2010, Cowell officially left American Idol. When he left, the show was in its seventh season, and this was the longest a show has lasted in the US overall viewership and demographics from the Nielsen ratings.
Cowell’s final season on the show was the 2010 season, and Steven Tyler was his replacement. In the same year, FOX acquired the rights to the X Factor USA, the American version of the British show the X-Factor.
The X Factor Takes the Spotlight
In 2004, Cowell, alongside Louis Walsh and Sharon Osbourne, became judges on the first British TV music content series, The X Factor. Cowell created the British TV music competition using his production company Syco TV. As expected, the show was an instant success.
The vocal powerhouse Leona Lewis won the third season and got signed into Syco. She sold a bunch of singles and albums around the world. In 2007, Cowell returned for the fourth series of The X Factor alongside Walsh, Osbourne, and new judge Dannii Minogue.
Louis Walsh Gets Fired
In the fourth season of The X Factor, Cowell sacked Walsh from the judging panel. Brian Friedman, who played the role of a judge on Grease is the Word, replaced Walsh. However, Cowell brought back Walsh a week into the auditions.
Osbourne realized that the show wasn’t the same without Walsh, and they had better chemistry as judges. Cowell returned for the fifth season in 2008 alongside Minogue, Walsh, and the new judge Cheryl Cole. Osbourne chose to quit before the fifth season began.
Cowell’s Last Appearance on X-Factor
He returned to X-Factor for the sixth and seventh seasons. However, the seventh was his last because he had to launch X Factor in America in 2011. British Boy Band One Direction placed third in season seven of the show.
The band got signed to Cowell’s record label in the same year, and they released hit singles that topped album charts worldwide. Gary Barlow replaced Cowell in series eight of the UK X Factor, and the winners were a girl group Little Mix signed to Syco record label. They have sold about 50 million records across the globe.
Australia Launched X Factor in 2005
X-Factor quickly became a household name, and other countries soon caught on. In 2005, the Australian version of the show aired on Network Ten featuring Mark Holden, John Reid, and Kate Ceberano as the judges. Sadly, the show did not last long.
After just one season, X Factor Australia came to an end, and this was primarily a result of poor ratings. However, the show returned in 2010 and did well on Seven Network until season eight in 2016. Again, bad ratings ended the show for the second time in 2017.
American X Factor Takes Center Stage
In 2011, Cowell officially launched American X Factor on Fox. Initially, he was to be a judge on both the UK and US editions of the show that aired at similar times the same year. However, MTV debunked the news on April 17.
According to MTV reports, Cowell was no longer a judge in the UK X-Factor but played a significant role in the background. Cowell, Paula Abdul, L.A. Reid, Nicole Scherzinger, and Cheryl Cole were judges on the show.
Cowell Chooses Winning Acts
Melanie Amaro was Simon’s choice on American X Factor season one. She won the first season, and that made Cowell the victorious judge. The man with an excellent eye for Talent and Mr. Reid returned for season two of the show, while Britney Spears and Demi Lovato replaced Scherzinger and Abdul as the female judges.
Fifth Harmony group came out third in season two of the show and was signed under Simon’s label. It didn’t take long for the group to become a global sensation. The group, shortened to 5H, signed a joint record deal with Syco Records and L.A. Reid’s label Epic Records.
Three Years Extra
Cowell remained a judge in the third season of X-Factor in 2013. His chosen act, Alex & Sierra, won the season, making Simon the winning judge for another season. In 2010, the renowned talent hunter signed three new deals.
Simon signed a three-year contract with ITV for both The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, keeping both shows until 2013. In 2013, the three-year deal received an additional three-year extension, keeping it on-air until 2016.
Simon Rejected X Factor Israel
Cowell remained on X-Factor until its 12th season in 2015. He was a co-judge alongside Cheryl Fernandez-Versini and new judges Rita Ora and DJ Nick Grimshaw from BBC Radio 1. According to news reports, in 2020, Simon was to be a guest judge in X-Factor Israel.
X-Factor Israel wanted Simon to become one of the judges when the show began in 2021. However, the Syco boss announced that he was canceling his appearance on the show due to the aggressive situation between Israel and Gaza.
The Got Talent Series
Based on how successful the Idol and X-Factor Franchises were, Cowell became inspired to start something new. His company and its business partners created a talent show format open to performers of any kind, including singers.
The establishment of the Got Talent format was inspired by British talent shows like Opportunity Knocks and New Faces. Opportunity Knocks was very popular, gathering up to 20 million audiences weekly while showcasing acts from dancers, singers, comedians, acrobats, animal acts, and novelty acts. Cowell was a massive fan of those shows and thought it “…really was a buzz” to be able to bring them back.
America’s Got Talent and Britain’s Got Talent
Cowell became the executive producer of America’s Got Talent after its official launch in June 2006. The show was a big success for NBC, gathering about 12 million viewers weekly and beating Simon Fuller’s So You Think You Can Dance.
In 2007, Britain’s Got Talent debuted on ITV, and Cowell appeared as a guest judge alongside Amanda Holden and Piers Morgan. The talent show was also a significant success. In 2019, Simon signed a five-year contract with ITV to ensure Britain’s Got Talent stays on the channel until 2024.
Guinness World Records
In 2014, Guinness World Records named Got Talent the world’s most successful reality TV format with spin-offs in more than 68 countries. After receiving the honorable award, Simon happily said, “I am very proud that Got Talent is a homegrown British show.”
In addition, he said the success of the show is a result of all the hard work from a group of highly talented producers worldwide. The dedication from all the producers made the show successful, in addition to the fantastic talent that keeps viewers entertained.
Cowell Launched La Banda
In 2015, Simon created his first US show, La Banda, since he worked with American X Factor. The goal of the content was to search for male singers and create the “Ultimate Latino Boy Band.” La Banda aired officially on Univision in 2015.
The Boy Band CNCO emerged as the show’s winner, and Simon signed them to Syco Music. In October 2015, Howard Stern replaced Cowell on America’s Got Talent. Announcements revealed that Simon bought Sony Music from their joint enterprise Syco Entertainment.
Other Talent Shows that Involved Simon
American Inventor debuted in 2006 with Simon and Peter Jones as the producers. The same year, Simon was the executive producer of Celebrity Duets, the “Idol show for Hollywood superstars.” Another show produced by Cowell was ITV’s Grease is the Word.
In 2008, Simon worked with Shed Media to produce Rock Rivals, similar to X-Factor. The talent show magnet created his first game show, Red or Black? in 2011. Cowell partnered with YouTube to create a video-sharing competition, The You Generation, in 2013. Other shows Simon produced are: Food Glorius Food (2013), Keep it in the Family (2016), and The Greatest Dancer (2018).