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Simon Cowell

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Fox's 'The X Factor' Season Finale
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Simon Cowell's Early Life:

Born October 7, 1959 in Brighton, England, Simon Cowell is the son of a music industry property executive. He has 3 half-brothers, a half-sister, and a multi-millionaire property executive younger brother. Simon Cowell dropped out of high school at the age of 17 and performed a number of menial jobs until he found his way to a job in the mail room of EMI Music Publishing, his father's employer.

Mentoring from Pete Waterman:

At EMI Simon Cowell worked his way up to being a record producer. He also met Pete Waterman, one third of the legendary Stock Aitken Waterman production team, in 1984. Cowell has said that he learned more from Pete Waterman in a very short period of time than he would be able to learn from an entire career with a major label. He formed the label Fanfare Records in 1985 with Ian Burton, and they achieved a series of top 10 pop hits with their artist Sinitta.

Successful Pop Music Entrepreneur:

By 1989, music conglomerate BMG was offering Simon Cowell a position as A&R consultant. In that role he signed such acts as 5ive and Westlife to contracts ultimately resulting in sales of over 25 million albums for his label S Records. In 2002 Simon Cowell formed the label Syco Records and signed such successful new recording acts as Il Divo and Pop Idol contestants Will Young and Gareth Gates. He sold his share in S Records in 2003 for a reported $42 million.

Successful Television Entrepreneur:

In 2001 Simon Cowell was hired along with Pete Waterman and 2 other music industry celebrities to be judges on the Pop Idol talent show in the UK. His arrestingly direct, and sometimes rude, comments in judging contestants gained Simon Cowell quick notoriety. Seen as a key part of the show's success, he was asked to take the same role in Pop Idol's American offshoot American Idol in 2002. In 2004 Simon Cowell was hired to produce the show The X Factor in the UK while Pop Idol was put on hiatus.

Simon Cowell's Pop Music Successes:

Signed Artists

  • Angelis
  • Curiosity Killed the Cat
  • 5ive
  • Gareth Gates
  • Il Divo
  • Journey South
  • One Direction
  • Robson & Jerome
  • Bianca Ryan
  • Sinitta
  • Sonia
  • Westlife
  • Will Young

Simon Cowell's TV Successes:

  • Pop Idol 2001-2003
  • American Idol 2002-
  • The X Factor UK 2004-
  • America's Got Talent 2006-
  • American Inventor 2006-2008
  • Celebrity Duets 2006
  • The X Factor USA 2011-

'X Factor' Moves To the US:

In January 2010 it was announced formally that Simon Cowell was leaving American Idol after the 2010 season. At the same time an announcement was made that Fox would broadcast a US version of X Factor with Simon Cowell as lead judge. This announcement resulted in a major reshuffling of the judges on American Idol. Only Randy Jackson remained from previous seasons.

In April 2011 it was announced that Simon Cowell would no longer judge the UK version of X Factor and he would concentrate solely on the US version. X Factor debuted in the US in September 2011 with Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, L.A. Reid, and Nicole Scherzinger in the judges seats. The show transferred successfully to the US but the judges shuffled in each season. For season two Demi Lovato and Britney Spears replaced Nicole Scherzinger and Paula Abdul. For season three Kelly Rowland and Paulina Rubio replaced Britney Spears and L.A. Reid.

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