Simon was brought up in Elstree, Hertfordshire by his parents, Eric and Julie Cowell.
In addition to his younger brother Nicholas, Simon has three half-brothers; Michael, John, and Tony, and a half-sister, June. Cowell dropped out of school at 15 and after a few unsuccessful jobs his father, an executive at recording giant EMI Music Publishing, got him a job in the mail room.
His connections eventually got him rehired as the assistant to an A&R man. From there, he worked his way up to record producer. However it wasn't long before he left the company to set up his own label, Fanfare, with partner Iain Burton. In 1989, Fanfare's mother company folded, driving the business into bankruptcy, forcing Cowell, deeply in debt, to move back in with his parents.
Proving that he had an ear for a hit, BMG quickly offered Simon the position of A&R Consultant. His time at BMG saw him pioneer some of the biggest selling hits in the industry, including bands 'Five' and 'Westlife'. He can also be credited with the emergence of TV hits from the likes of cartoon puppets 'Zig & Zag', 'The Teletubbies' and 'Robson & Jerome'.
Not only has Simon made records, he also breaks them: over a ten year period, via his company ‘S Records’, he has achieved sales of over 25 million albums, over 70 top 30 records, and 17 Number 1 singles. His band 'Westlife' has achieved an impressive 10 Number 1 hits alone.
Following the success of the 'Popstars' TV series, Simon joined forces with Simon Fuller to produce a ‘talent’ show where the public decides who wins. This show became the TV phenomenon, ‘Pop Idol’.
‘Pop Idol’ became compulsive viewing, attracting over 11 million viewers. The first ever winner, Will Young, picked up 4.6 million votes in a live final. Despite Simon favouring the runner-up, Gareth Gates, Will Young’s debut release 'Evergreen'/'Anything Is Possible', broke the record for the biggest selling debut single ever - reaching 1.8 million sales. Thanks to Simon cropping up in the ‘production’ credits of most of his artists' records, he has cleverly managed to secure himself a share of the royalties.
Despite his successes, Simon has also turned down many bands that went on to find success elsewhere – most notably ‘The Spice Girls’ and ‘Take That’, simply because he thought Gary Barlow was too fat to be a star!
Simon has now become a celebrity in his own right, serving as a judge on both the UK and US version of the ‘Pop Idol’ show. His straight-talking style has earned him various nicknames, including Mr Nasty and Judge Dread. He divides his time between the UK and America, and has set up his own production company, Syco TV, which co-produced the latest breed of talent show – ‘The X Factor'.
In 2006, Cowell signed to two record-breaking deals. In the US, he agreed to remain as a judge on American Idol, earning £20 million per series. He also has a deal with Fox which allows his production company to broadcast Got Talent and American Inventor on other networks.
In the UK, he signed a multi-million pound "golden handcuffs" deal with ITV for three years, which gave ITV rights to his hit talent show 'The X Factor'.
Life appears to very sweet indeed for Simon Cowell. The Sunday Times Rich List estimated that he earned £33.5m in one year alone in 2006, thanks to the global success of the 'Pop Idol' brand.
Cowell signed the winner of the third 'X-Factor', Leona Lewis, to his music label SyCo and she has since had a host of number one singles and albums across the globe.
He has since starred as a judge on the talent show in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. On 17April 2011 it was revealed by MTV News that Cowell would not be a judge on the 2011 series of the 'X-Factor' but would maintain a large backstage presence.
Meanwhile, Cowell is currently appearing on the US version of the 'X-Factor', which started in September 2011 amid controversy as Cheryl Cole was 'sacked' as a judge on the show, allegedly by Cowell, due to her accent. He has recently appeared as a judge on the 2014 series of 'Britain's Got Talent'.
On 14th February, Cowell and his partner Lauren Silverman had a baby named Eric.