The 58-year-old America’s Got Talent judge was honored on Wednesday with his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the original American Idol, 36, was there to support him with introductory remarks, Variety reports. Clarkson reminisced about how she and Cowell “started out together,” telling the audience, “He’s the best friend you can ever have … He’s honest and supportive.”
She also revealed that she never experienced “the mean” Cowell, adding, “I’m still waiting.”
Discussing Cowell’s impact on the music industry, Clarkson also complimented his unique ability to find authentic talent. “[Simon] appreciates authenticity even if it’s not something he’s into,” she said. “He appreciates you being yourself. That’s very rare in this industry.”
In addition to judging American Idol for nine seasons, Cowell also helped launch America’s Got Talent and The X Factor.
Cowell’s own speech was equally heartfelt once he got his characteristic sass out of the way. He started off by joking, “Why did this take so long?” but then moved into a series of thank yous, mentioning partner Lauren Silverman and 4-year-old son Eric, who were joined by Silverman’s son Adam, 12, for adorable family photos.
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“Lauren, you’ve been my rock for the past few years, put up with everything I put up with,” he said. “I suppose one thing I was also thinking about today was who would have got a bigger kick out of this? My mom and dad. And they’re not here, but I have a feeling they’re looking down, and now I can look over to my son Eric and say, ‘Maybe one day you’ll get one of these as well.'”
Big names at the event included American Idol alums Katharine McPhee and Adam Lambert, X Factor alums Louis Tomlinson, Leona Lewis, and Fifth Harmony’s Ally Brooke, America’s Got Talent winner Grace Vanderwaal, and fellow AGT judges Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel and Mel B.
In a May interview with Extra TV, Cowell shared that he’d “love” for Eric to take over his TV empire. “I actually think it’s probably the best incentive I’ve ever had to keep everything running as well as I possibly can over the next few years,” he shared.
But the producer was clear that he still prizes hard work, explaining that he doesn’t believe in just handing things to his son. “I would do with him what my dad did,” he said. “I would have him start as an intern, learn the job, but the idea that one day he could be doing this or something similar, I would love that.”