But now the Idol judge has come out with a snub that will have Bob Dylan fans blowin' in the wind with rage: he likes Kelly Clarkson better than the singing legend.
"Do I prefer Kelly Clarkson's music to Bob Dylan's? Yes. I've never bought a Dylan record. A singing poet? It just bores me to tears," Cowell tells February's Playboy.
The straight-shooting American Idol judge adds: "I've got to tell you, if I had 10 Dylans in the final of American Idol, we would not be getting 30 million viewers a week. I don't believe the Bob Dylans of this world would make American Idol a better show."
The 47-year-old Brit, who begins his sixth season Tuesday with the smash Fox talent contest that made Clarkson a winner in 2002, says he knows a lot of people think he's a big jerk for his acerbic, in-your-face opinions - and admits they may be right.
"Based on public opinion, yeah, I am. If half the people think I'm a [bleep]hole, then I'm half a [bleep]hole."