Pioneer of American Idol | Sunday Observer
Simon Cowell:

Pioneer of American Idol

3 October, 2021

If you watch the ‘American Idol’ reality show, you will definitely be interested in one judge of the panel of judges.

panel. He is non-other than Simon Cowell. He was famous for his scathing remarks on contestants during the first nine seasons of the ‘American Idol’. However, during recent seasons, he was known for his very calm, correct and consoling comments towards contestants. He not only gives judgements, but also voices illuminating thoughts with regards to the performances by competitors.

Who is Simon Cowell?

Cowell was born on October 7, 1959, in London, England, and is a British nationality. His father, Eric Philip Cowell, was an estate agent developer and music industry executive while his mother, Julie Brett, was a former ballet dancer and socialite. He attended school at Dover College, but dropped out at 16 because of his incompetency for learning. Thereafter, he floated in and out of jobs, until landing in the mailroom at his father’s company, EMI Music Publishing. In 1979, he was given the chance to discover performers to sing newly published songs, so he became a talent scout.

Cowell’s musical path is, indeed, a long one: He left EMI in the early 1980s to form E&S Music with his boss at EMI, Ellis Rich. According to facts, the company created several hits, but Cowell left by mutual agreement a few years later. In 1985, he and a partner formed an independent label Fanfare Records. The company enjoyed a short-lived success before folding in 1989. Later that year, a recording company named BMG Records hired him as an artiste and repertoire consultant. There, he began to climb the career ladder selling more than 150 million records and 70 top-charting singles in the U.K. and United States.

‘Pop Idol’ and ‘American Idol’

The year 2001 was a game changer for Cowell. There was a British television series in the year 2000 as ‘Popstars’, a reality show built around competing musical acts. Witnessing the popularity of the show, Cowell and British music and television producer Simon Fuller collaborated to develop the show’s format.

They created a new show, ‘Pop Idol’ (2001–03) based on the above format by allowing viewers to choose the winners in the final rounds of the show. With Cowell as a judge notorious for reducing contestants to tears, ‘Pop Idol’ became a hit and drew more than 10,000 would-be stars to audition for the show.

Then, in the next year 2002, The Fox Broadcasting Company in America imported the show along with Cowell as a judge, to the United States, where it premiered in 2002 as ‘American Idol’. Cowell’s fellow judges included singer Paula Abdul and producer Randy Jackson.

An immediate hit, it became the highest-rated American television show, 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.

The Show’s popularity was partly due to Cowell’s acerbic put-downs of contestants and on some occasions of his fellow judges.

From then on, Cowell became known for combining his music and television interests. In 2002, he set up another company, SYCOtv, which 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.

‘America’s Got Talent’

While serving as a judge in ‘American Idol’, Cowell also started to produce - as the executive producer - another reality show named ‘America Got Talent’ in 2006. The show began to air the same year. After 10 seasons, 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 X Factor’

Cowell had been acting as a judge at the ‘American Idol’ since 2002 until 2011 for 9 seasons. In 2011, when he was released from ‘American Idol’, he 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 centre at ‘The X Factor’ auditions. Television viewers loved this competition, and it 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. After three seasons, Cowell quit from ‘The X Factor’ in America in order to focus on judging its British series which resulted in cancelling its renewal for the fourth season by Fox.

‘The Greatest Dancer’ Cowell’s latest reality show was ‘The Greatest Dancer’ which was produced for BBC One in early 2019.

Competitors in it performed a variety of routines for ‘Dance Captains’ Cheryl, Oti Mabuse and Matthew Morrison.

Industry Recognition

As we know, Simon Cowell started his musical journey right from the bottom of the social ladder with many hardships. But when he began to be successful, celebrity status and money came seeking him naturally. Thus, in the year 2004, Entertainment Weekly named Simon Cowell as one of the ‘Top Entertainers of the Year’.

In 2006, he renewed his contract with ‘American Ido’l for five more seasons and that gave him a yearly salary of $40 million. The 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 Lis’t. 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. As of 2019, Cowell has an estimated net worth of $550 million.


In the summer of 2020, while testing out his new electric bike, Simon Cowell fell and broke his back. It was a serious injury which caused him to spend months recovering after undergoing five hours of surgery. Because of the accident, he was forced to temporarily leave the ‘America Got Talent’ show during season 15, to which he was assigned as a judge. In February 2021, he shared with People that he was feeling much better and was ready to resume his judging duties. So, Cowell came back to ‘America Got Talent’ at the season 16 premiere on June 1.

Aside from creating talent shows and judging them, Cowell signed a book deal as well in 2020 for a seven-part series about animals called ‘Wishfits’, co-authored with his son Eric.


Cowell first got engaged to an Idol makeup artist Mezhgan Hussainy in 2010, but the couple broke off their engagement the following year. Then, he went on to briefly date actress and model Carmen Electra.

By 2013, he began a relationship with a New York City socialite Lauren Silverman who was 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. Then, the couple married, and Cowell now considers “the best thing that ever happened to me” in life was being a father, though he initially rejected being a father. In 2019, Cowell revealed that he had adopted a vegan diet as part of a healthier lifestyle.