Simon Cowell is one of those celebrities that most people in the United States and Britain know of, even if they haven’t specifically seen him on television.
This is likely because he has many titles behind his name, and therefore, his influence can be found in a variety of settings.
He is an entrepreneur, a recording executive, a talent scout, a consultant, an author, a television producer, and more.
Perhaps his most commonly known influence and personality is the mean-spirited, critical judge he plays on the British series Pop Idol and American Idol.
Why Is Simon Cowell Famous?
Simon Cowell became a popular judge on American Idol in 2002.
However, prior to that, he was a judge on the British television show, Pop Idol in 2001.
He quickly rose in fame and popularity with his scathing and sarcastic commentary directed toward contestants on the show.
He has a deep, authoritative voice that he effectively uses to strike fear in contestants.
Despite that, many consider him to be their favorite judge.
His brutally honest reputation has earned him many nicknames, including Mr. Nasty, Judge Dread, Nasty Simon, and Sarcastic Simon.
Most of these nicknames can be heard spoken by contestants behind the scenes as they are preparing for their performance, or having just been kicked off of the show.
His parents, most particularly his father, were well-known influencers, which may have played a part in his introduction to Hollywood and his music career.
His mother, Julie Cowell, was a popular ballet dancer.
His father, Eric Selig Phillip Cowell was an influential music industry executive who inspired Simon to pursue a career in the music industry.
His introduction into the music industry was in the mailroom at EMI Music Publishing.
Also within the music industry, he has experience as a record producer, consultant, and talent scout.
Interestingly enough, Cowell dropped out of high school at the age of 16, making his rise to fame even more exciting and inspiring to young people around the world who are interested in the music or television industries.
An Intimidating Personality With A Big Heart
Cowell’s fans can recall many times when the celebrity was downright cruel on American Idol, or any of the shows within the …Got Talent franchise.
However, his blunt comments did not start with American Idol.
He references in his 2003 book I Don’t Mean to be Rude, But… that his hypercritical personality started at a young age when he would comment on his mother’s clothing, calling her a poodle when she wore a specific hat.
Cowell is also one of seven children in his family, including several half-siblings.
Therefore, this critical attitude may have originated as a self-defense method to protect or retaliate in verbal spars between siblings.
One cruel comment made on American Idol was about a contestant’s singing coach, whom he encouraged the contestant to sue as their singing was terrible despite the coaching.
While cruel, Cowell’s comments also tend to confuse the contestants and viewers.
American Idol contestant Garrett Haley shakily sang Breaking Up Is Hard to Do, yet Cowell chose to comment on his appearance, saying that he looked as if he’d been shut in his bedroom, was haunted, and pale.
He encouraged the contestant to get a v-neck shirt and a spray tan. In fact, Cowell is widely known for his comments about contestants’ appearances.
Another confusing review he has given involves a self-reported horoscope analogy.
He references Janay Castine’s horoscope, telling the contestant, “… a suitcase and a plane travel within 24 hours because I honestly do not think you will last another week. You looked cute but sounded horrible.”
The contestant likely wavered between being offended and confused as to what point the judge was trying to deliver.
Cowell Recognizes Talent When He Sees It
In Britain’s Got Talent, Cowell was a part of the judging team that rated Susan Boyle’s performance.
This may have been one of the most memorable performances of the show.
Despite his reputation for bringing contestants down a notch, after his initial criticism of Boyle’s appearance, he changed his tune about the singer.
He raved over Boyle’s performances, and several reports say he refers to her rise to fame as the “great underdog story.”
Cowell continues to surprise fans with his big heart towards contestants on his shows.
Fans have become so accustomed to his sarcasm in criticizing contestants that, when he shows a positive attitude, it really stands out.
For example, in 2021 on America’s Got Talent, Cowell felt so strongly about nine-year-old Victory Brinker’s performance that he convinced the other judges to break the normal rules.
The judges surprised Victory and the audience by hitting the Golden Buzzer at the same time in appreciation of the contestant.
This is the first time all four judges and the host used the Golden Buzzer unanimously.
Brinker responded that, if she won the show, she wanted to work with Cowell to get him a new and more colorful wardrobe.
Another example of Cowell’s kind heart is when he helped a female participant get her job back after she had quit so she could audition for the show.
After rejecting the contestant for the show, he called her former workplace and argued on her behalf until her previous employer agreed to rehire her.
Rise To Stardom
Cowell worked in the mailroom and as a talent finder until forming Fanfare Records with his friend Iain Burton in 1983.
The company was successful for a few years before it shut down.
He next was employed at BMG Records as a repertoire consultant.
He was successful in signing many artists to the record label.
This job represented a turning point in his career.
One of Cowell’s first television appearances was in the UK, on the series Sale of the Century in 1989.
In the show, contestants competed against each other by answering questions.
The more questions they answered correctly, the more money they earn.
At certain points throughout the game, contestants can spend their earnings on prizes.
He won the show and his prize was a set of kitchen scales.
Since then, he has helped to begin and produce the …Got Talent franchise, with more than 100 …Got Talent productions across the world.
In the early 2000s, Cowell began as a judge on Britain’s Pop Idol.
Fox Broadcasting Company sent the show to the United States, and American Idol was born.
This was the beginning of his real claim to fame among American fans.
The show rose in popularity quickly with Cowell as one of the beloved—and most feared—judges.
Since then, he has also become well known for his roles on The X-Factor and Britain’s Got Talent as well.
The X-Factor has discovered some very popular and influential groups, including One Direction, Alexandra Burke, Cher Lloyd, and more.
All of these shows contain many examples of Cowell’s witty and sarcastic personality.
He tends to give contestants harsh criticism and is known to have reduced many to tears.
However, as discussed above, he is also known for surprising his audience.
When Cowell enjoys a performance, he makes sure that the entire audience is aware of it.
His opinions hold a lot of power and influence among both the judges and audiences worldwide.
In 2010, Time Magazine released The 100 Most Influential People in the World within the Artist’s category.
Simon Cowell was one of them alongside Barack Obama, Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift.
Cowell continues to keep his audience entertained in America’s Got Talent, with judges Heidi Klum, Sofia Vergara, and host Terry Crews.
The most popular artist to be discovered by Fanfare Records before it was shut down, was Sinitta’s So Macho in 1987.
The only apparent downfall of Sinitta’s release is that, around the same time that the song gained popularity, Cowell’s father died.
This likely impacted Cowell’s ability to celebrate the first hit song that his label had produced.
Since then, he has gotten to work with a variety of other singers.
The one-time boy band One Direction was orchestrated by Simon Cowell himself after he put the group together on The X-Factor.
Other artists that Cowell takes credit for discovering include the following:
- Leona Lewis (The X-Factor)
- Fifth Harmony (The X-Factor)
- Noah Cyrus (signed to Cowell’s record label Syco)
- Susan Boyle (Britain’s Got Talent)
- Little Mix (The X-Factor)
- Cher Loyd (The X-Factor)
- Grace VanderWaal (America’s Got Talent)
Many followers are unaware that Cowell also had a role in the Teletubbies’ successful hit Say Eh-Oh!, which reached number one in 1997 in the UK.
The Teletubbies were on his record label at that time.
He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which was installed in August 2018.
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Walk of Fame selection committee receives around 200 nominations each year, and only awards an average of 30 celebrities this coveted honor.
Many blogs and news reports also say he is a vegan after a health scare made him question his lifestyle of fatty foods and his “workaholic” tendencies.
During the Coronavirus pandemic, Cowell told Extra that he had increased his exercise and started eating healthier.
He reported he has lost at least 60 pounds through this change in diet.
Awards Received For His Contributions To The Entertainment Industry
Cowell has received several awards for his influence in producing and judging in a variety of television series.
These awards include:
- MipCom’s Personality of the Year Award
- BAFTA’s Special Achievement Award
- International Emmy Founders Award
- National Television Award (2008)
- Music Industry Trusts Award (2015)
Cowell Supports A Variety Of Charities And Causes
Cowell is known to support a wide variety of charitable groups, including:
- ACLU of Southern California
- Battersea Dogs & Cats Home
- Boys & Girls Clubs of America
- Centre For Environmental Education
- Kids Wish Network
He supports a variety of other causes, such as abuse, AIDS, at-risk youth, civil rights, conservation, and disaster relief.
As part of Idol Gives Back, Cowell has spent time traveling through Africa and the United States where he has witnessed firsthand many underserved and impoverished areas.
There are a few reports that both Cowell and Ryan Seacrest, the host of American Idol, have donated their entire paychecks to charitable organizations after touring with Idol Gives Back.
In an interview with The Sun, Cowell admits he was devastated to hear that Shooting Star Children’s Hospices was just one of several charities in England that were experiencing a dramatic loss of funds due to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Cowell urges other celebrities who have the available resources to step up and help charities across the world.
In this interview, Cowell revealed that his team at Syco Music would be donating one million dollars between Feeding Britain and Feeding America.
Cowell is well known for his casual attire seen on American Idol and America’s Got Talent.
His classic look is a simple white or black shirt with jeans.
His audience is so used to his typical attire, that when he branched out and wore a red shirt on America’s Got Talent in 2019, it earned him a spot on The Sun UK.
His clothing has been a hot topic on many gossip sites.
Some state the celebrity has more than 30 Armani shirts of the same color (black or white), which he wears on repeat.
Cowell’s fans also noted a bracelet that Cowell frequently was seen wearing in The X-Factor.
The bracelet was in memory of Chloe Rutherford and her boyfriend Liam Curry who died in the bombing at the Ariana Grande concert in 2017.
The Chloe and Liam Together Forever Trust was established after their deaths “to inspire and support others to achieve and reach their full potential through the love of sport and performance.”
Syco Music is a record label that Cowell is affiliated with.
Syco was a joint venture between Cowell and Sony Music.
Cowell is responsible for running Syco Entertainment, which focuses primarily on television projects, while Sony Music retains the Syco Music assets.
Current artists signed to the label include One Direction, Little Mix, James Arthur, Ella Henderson, Camila Cabello, and Fifth Harmony.
Cowell’s Hobbies And Interests
One of Cowell’s hobbies is his love of cars.
He is reported to have a Rolls Royce Phantom, a Ferrari California, a Bentley, a Jaguar Speedster, a 1966 Ford, Bronco and a SMART car.
Besides expensive cars, he is also reported to have a large collection of electric bicycles, quad bikes, motorcycles, and a variety of scooters.
His fans refer to him as a thrill seeker, despite two injuries that have caused bodily harm.
Cowell’s love for e-bike riding has led to a few dangerous accidents.
Early in 2022, he fell off his bike, breaking his arm in the process.
He did not let that prevent him from getting back to the hobby as soon as he was able, though.
He explained to USA Today why he got back on the e-bike so quickly by saying, “I think it’s important.
When you fall off something, you gotta get back on it again.”
He enjoys traveling and vacations in France and Italy.
He owns a yacht, called Slipstream, which he takes on voyages in the Mediterranean.
Cowell’s Mishaps And Scandals
One of the celebrity’s biggest failures was when he turned down the opportunity to record with The Spice Girls and Take That.
Hindsight is 20/20, and Cowell did not have it when it came to these stars.
Rumor is that he turned down Take That solely because Gary Barlow was heavier, and therefore, unfit to be a lead singer according to Cowell at the time.
Cowell has also been the victim of many rumors calling him a wild bachelor and ladies’ man, who refused to settle down.
However, one of the dramatic scandals that has kept the media’s attention over the years is his love affair with Lauren Silverman.
Lauren is the mother of Cowell’s son, Eric.
Lauren and Simon met in Barbados while she was married to Andrew Silverman.
Their relationship was off and on for years, Cowell was even engaged to another woman briefly.
Simon and Lauren’s relationship became more public when she got pregnant in 2013, which prompted Lauren and Andrew to file for divorce.
Some celebrity magazines report that Lauren and Cowell got engaged on Christmas Eve 2021.