Full name: Simon Phillip Cowell
Nicknames: Mr. Nasty, Judge Dread
Date of birth: October 7, 1959
Hometown: Brighton, East Sussex, England
Education: Attended Dover College, but left before the sixth form
Significant other? Simon is engaged to make up artist Mezhgan Hussainy, whom he met on the set of American Idol.
Resume highlights: Music executive, TV producer
Bet you didn't know... The first time he gave a criticism was at age 4 when he looked at his mother's white, fuzzy pillbox hat and remarked, "Mum, you look like a poodle."
Simon Cowell Links:
- 10 Things You Didn't Know About Simon Cowell
- Photos! Simon and Paula's Weird Relationship
- T-Shirt Love Story: The Many Tops of Simon Cowell
Simon Cowell grew up in London with three brothers and two sisters. His father was an estate agent developer and music industry executive, and his mother was a former ballet dancer and socialite.
A lad with a serious ‘tude (some things never change!), Simon dropped out of high school when he was 16. He hopped from one odd job to another before becoming a mail clerk at EMI Music Publishing, where his father worked. Simon was soon promoted from from clerk to talent scout at EMI, and by the ‘80s, he had already started a record label, E&S Music, with one of his former bosses — and co-founded an independent record label, Fanfare, that ended up folding. Simon eventually built a successful career at BMG Records, and in 2002 he established another label, Syco Music, that later became part of Columbia Records and Sony BMG Music Entertainment.
His big break came when he was chosen to judge the UK talent show Pop Idol in 2001. Thanks to his brutally honest (and some would say rude) comments to the worst pop-star wannabes, Simon became the show's most talked-about judge.
When Simon crossed the pond to join the judges' panel of American Idol in 2002, his snarky style helped make the show a mega-success. He was reportedly offered $144 million a year to stay on Idol during his last seasons on the show. Ca-ching! Simon also made bank producing the shows Britain's Got Talent, America's Got Talent, the British version of The X Factor, and American Inventor.
After serving as an American Idol judge for nine seasons, Simon left to launch the U.S. version of The X Factor. He’s brought his trademark snark back to the judges’ table on this new show — alongside Paula Abdul, L.A. Reid, and Nicole Scherzinger.