Simon Cowell fights back tears recalling shock family death: 'It was the longest trip home'

simon cowell in grey suit
(Getty Images)

Former X Factor judge Simon Cowell has opened up about the death of his beloved father Eric who sadly passed away from a heart attack in 1999.

During an appearance on Steven Bartlett's Diary of a CEO podcast, the music mogul, 64, spoke candidly about a particularly "bittersweet" period of his life during which time he was simultaneously dealing with stratospheric success, and unimaginable grief.

Simon Cowell attends the Britain's Got Talent 2024 photocall on January 25, 2024 in London, England
Simon Cowell is best known for presenting Britain's Got Talent (Getty Images)

Clutching a copy of Westlife's single, he said: "My dad passed away right at this time as well. This was a real bittersweet time for me because my dad, he never knew this, but my dad was amazing at spotting hit records."

Musing on the life-changing moment his mother Julie called him to share news of his father's death, Simon continued: "I went to Germany for a big conference and I did quite a big presentation on the group and the reaction was huge… and I just called, and I could tell something wasn't quite right.

Lauren Silverman, Eric Cowell and Simon Cowell arrives at the Red Carpet For "America's Got Talent" Season 17 Live Show at Sheraton Pasadena Hotel on September 13, 2022
Simon Cowell with Lauren Silverman and their son Eric (Getty Images)

"I think someone said to my mum 'Dont tell Simon while he's there', and then I phoned back and she told me and I couldn't believe it. Because I genuinely at that point in my life just believed that my parents were going to live forever.

A visibly emotional Simon added: "It was the longest trip home… That flight... It was bad." 

Elsewhere on the podcast, the BGT judge shared a behind-the-scenes glimpse inside his bond with his mini-me son Eric whom he shares with his fiancée Lauren Silverman.

Simon Cowell and his son, Eric Cowell attend the ceremony honoring Simon Cowell with a Star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame held on August 22, 2018
Simon and Lauren welcomed Eric in 2014 (Getty Images)

During a poignant discussion about Simon's parents, the TV star revealed how Eric has grown an attachment to a brown blanket that was gifted to him by Simon's late mother Julie who suffered from dementia.

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"My mum, she started to get dementia, but fortunately she saw Eric. She really wanted me to have a kid. And she bought him this brown blanket, and he still has it. Literally, everything is about the brown blanket," he explained.

"You know, 'Where's my brown blanket?', and he said to me, when he was about two or three after she passed away… He looked up at the sky one night and he said 'I'm thinking about grandpa Eric and Julie.'

"And it was just the way he said it, it was like, gosh, 'Why would you say that now', and that's when I genuinely really started to believe they are still somehow with us… It's not a total loss."

Simon's bond with Eric

The father-of-one has a very close bond with his son and has previously been open about how much Eric's arrival has significantly impacted his life.

Speaking in 2022, Simon shared: "After I lost my parents, I genuinely felt... I would never feel that kind of love for anyone ever again. I thought that was it... Until I saw the scan of him for the first time.

Simon Cowell and his son cuddling a dog
The father-son duo share a close bond (Instagram)

"From that moment I saw the scan, I was like 'That is it, I'm besotted.' Now I just cannot imagine my life without him. He's the most amazing thing that ever happened to me. I adore him."