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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 June, 2003, 12:32 GMT 13:32 UK
Simon Fuller: Guiding pop culture
Fuller with the first American Idol winner, Kelly Clarkson
Simon Fuller with the first American Idol winner, Kelly Clarkson
Performers managed by pop svengali Simon Fuller have claimed the top three spots in the United States charts. BBC News Online looks at his career.

When music fans look back on the charts of the last 10 years, they will see the unmistakable handprint of one man - Simon Fuller.

Described by some as the man with the Midas touch and by others as an evil genius, the pop impresario has swept the globe with his creations from the Spice Girls to Pop Idol.

Estimated to be worth 90m ($150m) and rising, there is no disputing that he has his finger on the pulse of youth culture, and knows how to exploit it.

He began his career at record company Chrysalis, climbing through the ranks to become an A&R scout, finding new talent.

SIMON FULLER'S UK AND US TRACK RECORD
Number one singles - 96
Top 40 singles - 358
Number one albums - 79
Top 40 albums - 224
Source: 19
When he discovered Paul Hardcastle in the mid-1980s, he set out on his own and propelled Hardcastle to number one with his Vietnam war song, 19.

Fuller named his company 19 to mark the success.

His next discovery was singer-songwriter Cathy Dennis, who was guided to a string of global hits in the early 1990s.

He still manages Dennis, who has moved behind the scenes to write songs like Can't Get You Out Of My Head for Kylie Minogue.

Spice success

Fuller also took former Eurythmics singer Annie Lennox onto his books, helping her revive her career to become the UK's favourite solo female.

The Spice Girls
He became known to music fans for managing the Spice Girls
He still manages her too, and her latest album, Bare, has gone into the top five in the US and UK without any single releases.

But he first hit the headlines himself with the Spice Girls, whose carefully constructed brand of bubblegum pop swept through the global charts like a whirlwind in the late-1990s.

He did not bring them together, but took over their reins at the start of 1996, months before they hit the big time.

"On the first day I sat down with the girls, before we had a deal, and it was agreed that we would go for it on a worldwide basis," he said.

Fuller embarked on a strategic campaign to create excitement among record companies and the media, enticing them with their slick pop and energetic, appealing personas.

By July 1996, their debut single, Wannabe, had gone to number one in the UK and went on to do the same in 36 other countries.

S Club 7
S Club 7 were one of the UK's most successful pop groups
Fuller's plan was so successful that there were few places in the world where the Spice Girls name was not known.

But they grew unhappy with his style and sacked him less than 18 months after finding success.

Fuller stumbled with his first attempt at a comeback, launching another group, 21st Century Girls - "a female Slade for the millennium" - who soon sank.

S Club hits

But success was not far away, launching S Club 7, a young men and women who went on to have 11 UK top five hit singles.

Their success spanned music, TV and movies, with the success of each strand propelling the others.

When S Club (they dropped the 7 after one member left) split earlier this year, Fuller already had a ready-made replacement to pick up the mantle, the younger S Club Juniors.

Ruben Studdard (right) with fellow finalist Clay Aiken
Ruben Studdard (right) beat Clay Aiken to win American Idol 2
"My business is creating fame and celebrity, and I'm one of the best in the world. I know it to the finest detail," he said recently.

It is his TV venture Pop Idol that has doubled his fortune in the last 12 months.

The programme - sold to the US as American Idol - has helped redefine the TV talent show, making viewers a vital part of the process by asking them to vote, and bringing the glamour of the pop world to screens.

The top artists, such as Will Young and Gareth Gates in the UK, and Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard in the US, were then taken under Fuller's wing.

Singles that were rushed out to capitalise on the hype broke sales records.

Future projects

For those wary of Fuller's hold over popular culture, there is much more on its way.

Second Chance Idol is expected to give former stars the Pop Idol treatment, while American Juniors - a TV show to create a US version of S Club Juniors - has just launched.

There have been rumours of a UK prime time quiz show where one million viewers could compete on the phone at the same time, and a new version of The Monkees is in the pipeline.

He has talked about reinventing the beauty pageant with a show called All American Girl, and even rolling Pop Idol out to China.




SEE ALSO:
Pop Idol 'nets founder 30m'
01 Nov 02  |  Entertainment
Pop Idol creator turns back time
31 Oct 02  |  Entertainment
Pop Idol creator eyes Monkees remake
24 Jul 02  |  Entertainment
Spice svengali celebrates S Club success
14 Jun 99  |  Entertainment


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