CELEBRITYSimon Cowell cries over father's death
Talent-show guru had to hold back his tears on TV, when he re-lived the moment he discovered his father had died
As X Factor's "Mr Nasty", Simon Cowell is not known for his sensitive side.
But the talent-show guru had to hold back his tears when he re-lived the moment he discovered his father had died.
With tragic irony, Cowell learned the news after he called his mother to share his "euphoria" that his group Westlife had their first No 1.
The 50-year-old welled up as he recalled the memory on Piers Morgan's Life Stories, just weeks after Gordon Brown also became dewy-eyed on the British talk show when speaking of the death of his baby daughter Jennifer.
In the interview Cowell chokes back the emotion when his mother Julie describes the fraught trans-Atlantic phone call in which she broke the news of her husband Eric's death in 1999.
Visibly shaken, Cowell starts to speak, then pauses to catch his breath before stumbling through his account of what he calls "a horrible, horrible, horrible time".
And the multi-millionaire describes his wealth and hit records as "meaningless" when confronted with the death of his father.
On the show, Cowell is shown a video in which Julie describes how her son called her from Boston when he learned that Westlife, who he managed, were to top the British charts with their debut single Swear It Again.
She says: "He rang me and I've never known him so excited, he was just dying for these lads to come over there and [saying] they were going to get a No 1."
She says they were a "very close family" and that when she broke the news to her son, he "just went to pieces... he was very shocked, it was unexpected. And he really did that time, I never realised how emotional he was until this happened."
Cowell manages to maintain his composure when first describing his memories of the day to Morgan.
He recalls his "total euphoria" over Westlife's success, adding: "I believed in the band and I wanted to share the news with my mum and dad, and then [came] the news of what had happened and I had to get back to England.
"I rang both of them to tell them the news and my mum was acting in kind of a strange way and then she called me back and told me."
But when Morgan asks about his immediate reaction, Cowell comes close to tears. "Oh Piers it was erm... it wasn't, wasn't good," he says.
"But you've just got to deal with it, you know, and I went back and realised that your first responsibility is that you've got to look after your mum. It was a horrible, horrible, horrible time, like I said. You believe everyone is going to live for ever and they don't.
"And all the stuff you think you care about, the hit records and stuff like that, it's just meaningless."
Eric Cowell, a music industry executive, had helped his son get his first job in the record industry, in the mail room of EMI music publishing.
He watched as Cowell became a powerful A&R man, responsible for spotting and nurturing acts, and then set up his own record label to launch the careers of artists such as Sinitta.
And Eric helped pick up the pieces when Cowell's company hit financial difficulties, forcing him to move back in with his parents.
Cowell went back to work with artists for the record company BMG, where he had further success and used it as a launch pad into the world of TV talent shows. He is now worth an estimated £50 million (Dh280 million) thanks to his hit singles and roles in Britain's Got Talent, American Idol and X Factor.
Asked about his sadness that his father did not live to see how successful Cowell has become, he says: "Yes, he would have got a kick out of this, you know, and I often think about that.
"I would have liked to have seen his reaction because I think he would have found it good fun, he had a great sense of humour like that."