Since it was announced last week that judges Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger were leaving "The X Factor," speculation and gossip has run rampant about which singing superstars will replace them in Season 2, with such A-list names as Beyonce and Mariah Carey making the mix. But now Simon Cowell has confirmed that he was actually campaigning to have the late Whitney Houston be a new "X Factor" judge.
Whitney Houston died Saturday, suddenly and shockingly, at age 48. Reacting to the terrible news, Simon told Britain's Sky TV: "There are always moments in your life that are horrible to remember. The day John Lennon died, or Elvis Presley, and recently Amy Winehouse and Michael Jackson--and now Whitney. It's just really, really horrible."
That same night, calling in to his friend Piers Morgan's CNN talk show, an "absolutely devastated" Simon revealed: "We were ironically going to meet on Monday and of course, one of the names we were going to be talking about in that meeting as a possible mentor on the new series of 'X Factor' was going to be Whitney Houston....Given the choice, I would have liked to have taken her under my wing as well, because she would have been the ultimate, ultimate mentor to any contestant coming on the show."
Simon added: "I always looked to Whitney and Mariah, that they had this sort of fantastic rivalry, but massive respect for each other. But for me, Whitney [versus] Mariah--ever since I've been doing this job, particularly doing talent shows over the last 10 years, the number one singer anyone wanted to emulate, if they really wanted to be a superstar, it was always Whitney. We would hear Whitney songs over and over again. She was the benchmark. She truly was."
Speaking of the last time he saw Whitney, when she performed three years ago on "The X Factor U.K.," Simon told Piers: "There was more excitement about Whitney performing than any other artist we'd had before....the crowd went crazy."
"I am absolutely devastated by this news, " Simon said. "I am so sad for her. She was one of the greatest superstars of all time, one of the greatest voices in our lifetime we're likely ever to hear."