Migraines and Famous Migraineurs: Simon Cowell

by Nancy Harris Bonk Patient Expert

Whether we like it or not, there is a strong stigma surrounding Migraine. In fact, there is more stigma attached to Migraine then there is to epilepsy. Teri explained this in a recent study she wrote about in this article; Migraine Incurs More Stigma than Epilepsy: Study. In order to combat this stigma, I've had many conversations with patient advocates that Migraine needs a national spokesperson, someone like Michael J. Fox. A person of notoriety who can be in the forefront of Migraine disease and not afraid to take a stand and speak up for 47 million people who have Migraine. This brings me to Simon Cowell, who had a Migraine last week and missed five hours worth of auditions for 'Britain's Got Talent' TV show. I'm certainly not suggesting he be our spokesperson, but here is another person in the limelight with connections, and money who has Migraine. Why is it that no one is willing to stand up for Migraine disease?

But I digress. Simon Cowell was born on October 7, 1959, in London, England, to Eric and Julie Cowell. Eric was a music executive with EMI Music Publishing and an estate agent developer. Cowell's mother Julie was a classically trained ballet dancer and socialite. Cowell has a younger brother, three half brothers and one half sister. The family grew up in Elstree, Hertfordshire and were fortunate to live a good life. Cowell went to boarding school in Dover, where he was very unhappy and left school when he was 16-years-old.

Before Cowell entered the music industry, he mowed lawns, waited tables and was a window cleaner. One of the first jobs he had in the music business was as a runner at Elstree studios. After that, he got a job in the mailroom at EMI Music Publishing where is father worked. Cowell worked his way up at EMI and became an assistant to an artist and repertoire executive there. He then moved up and became a talent scout.

During the early 1980's, Cowell departed from his job at EMI, and together with his former boss Ellis Rich, started E & S Music. They made quite a few hits, but the partnership didn't last long. His next musical venture entailed working with Iain Burton, founder of Fanfare Records where he soon became a partner. He helped produce a number of hits including 'So Macho', 'Toyboy' and others. Fanfare went under due to financial problems which left Cowell bankrupt, pushing him to return home and live with his parents. That financial nightmare didn't stop Cowell from pursuing the career he loved. He began consulting with BMG Records and slowly worked his way up in the company, signing a host of successful performers. These recording artists sold more than 150 million records and 70 hits on the top single charts in the United Kingdom and United States.

Cowell partnered with Simon Fuller in 2001, producing the British TV show Pop Idol. The show is a bit different than other talent shows because the public is allowed to choose the winning performing artist. Pop Idol became popular very quickly - more than 10,000 people turned up to audition for it. Cowell also on the judging panel of this show and others can at times a harsh critic, often bringing the competitors to tears.

In 2002, American Idol (the American version of Pop Idol) made its premiere in the United States with Cowell at the judging table again. Other American Idol judges that have joined Cowell are Randy Jackson and Paula Abul, Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler, Mariah Carey, Keith Urban and Nikki Minaj. American Idol has produced a number of stars including Kelly Clarkson (2002), Clay Aiken (2003), Jennifer Hudson (2004) and Carrie Underwood (2005) among others.

Sycotv, a company Cowell started in 2002, has produced a number of TV shows including American Inventor, America's Got Talent, and X-Factor in England. X-Factor came to the United States in 2011 and has been so successful its second season began in September 2012.

Entertainment Weekly called Cowell one of the Top Entertainers of the Year in 2004 and he was named as Variety's UK Personality of the Year in 2006. That same year he was able to extend his contract with American Idol for five more seasons that included a yearly salary of $40 million. Forbes' TV Faces List in 2007 gave Cowell the number three spot and the number 21 spot for Forbes' Celebrity 100 Power List. He was named the best-paid presenter on prime-time United States TV in 2009 and is also a proponent of several charities. He produced an offshoot show of American Idol called Idol Gives Back that raised $76 million to help children in Africa and poor people in America.

For more information on Famous Migraineurs see:


Flint, Hanna. "Carmen who? Simon Cowell gives a female fan a kiss on the lips at Britain's Got Talent auditions." Daily Mail, February 4, 2013.http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2273128/Simon-Cowell-treats-fan-kiss-lips-Britains-Got-Talent-auditions.html?ito=feeds-newsxml#axzz2KeGqXOp1

Ian, Burrell. "Simon Cowell: Idol rich. The money's rolling in for the talent-show impresario whose hold over audiences and the industry borders on the terrifying."The Independent, November 14, 2009.http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/simon-cowell-idol-rich-1820378.html

Just Simon Cowell."Simon Cowell Biography."February 10, 2013.** **

TruStoryBio. "Simon Cowell Biography." February 9, 2011.

Thanks for reading and feel well,

Nancy Harris Bonk
Meet Our Writer
Nancy Harris Bonk

Nancy wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Migraine.