I Know Him So Well

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"I Know Him So Well"
Single by Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson
from the album Chess, Gold and Love Hurts
B-side "Chess" (London Symphony Orchestra)
Released December 1984 [1]
Format 7" single, 12" single
Recorded 1984
Genre Pop
Length 4:15
Label RCA
Writer(s) Benny Andersson, Tim Rice, Björn Ulvaeus
Producer(s) Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, Tim Rice
Certification Gold

"I Know Him So Well" is a duet from the concept album and subsequent musical Chess by Tim Rice, Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus. It was originally sung by Elaine Paige (as Florence) and Barbara Dickson (as Svetlana). In this duet, two women – Svetlana, the Russian chess champion's estranged wife, and Florence, his mistress – express their bittersweet feelings for him and at seeing their relationships fall apart.

Original version[edit]

The duet was first released worldwide on the Chess double LP, often referred to as a concept album or album musical, in the autumn of 1984. Later it was released as a single by Paige and Dickson, the duet reaching number one in the UK Singles Chart for four weeks in 1985.[2] They laid down their vocals separately and never met during the recording of the song, only for the video and subsequent performances on Top of the Pops and the European tours.[1][3] This recording remains in the Guinness Book of Records as the biggest selling UK Chart single ever by a female duo. Paige also appeared in the original London West End stage production of Chess.

In the United Kingdom on 18 September 2004, the BBC's All-Time Greatest Love Songs (hosted by Lionel Richie) saw the duet performed live by Paige and Dickson, together for the first time in 20 years, to a rapturous reception. Paige played her solo demo recording of the song on her BBC Radio 2 show, Elaine Paige on Sunday.

In January 2011 the Official Charts Company released a list of the top 10 All Time Best Selling Duets in which "I Know Him So Well" was placed seventh in the chart.[4]

Paige and Dickson also recorded Spanish-language lyrics for release as "Lo Creo Conocer". The single was never released though.[5]

Original recording credits[edit]

  • Benny Andersson – keyboards, synthesizers
  • Barbara Dickson – vocals
  • Anders Eljas – keyboards, synthesizers
  • Rutger Gunnarsson – bass
  • Per Lindvall – drums, percussion
  • Elaine Paige – vocals
  • Lasse Wellander – guitars
  • Writers and producers – Benny Andersson, Tim Rice, Björn Ulvaeus
  • Arrangement – Benny Andersson, Anders Eljas
  • Engineer and mixer – Michael B. Tretow

Whitney Houston and Cissy Houston version[edit]

"I Know Him So Well"
Single by Whitney Houston and Cissy Houston
from the album Whitney
B-side "Just The Lonely Talking Again" "You're Still My Man"
Released November 30, 1988
Format CD Single, Maxi-Single, 7" single, 12" single
Recorded 1986–1987
Genre Soul, gospel, R&B
Length 4:30
Label Arista
Writer(s) Tim Rice, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson
Producer(s) Narada Michael Walden
Whitney Houston singles chronology
"Love Will Save The Day"
"I Know Him So Well"
"One Moment in Time"
Whitney track listing
"Where Do Broken Hearts Go"
"I Know Him So Well"

In 1987, a studio version of "I Know Him So Well" was recorded as a duet by Whitney Houston and her mother Cissy Houston for Whitney's second album, Whitney. It was released as a final and 6th single from Whitney on November 30, 1988 in Australia, Germany, Netherlands, and Spain. There was no official music video produced for the Houston duet of song, however there are live performance video-recordings. The song version was included in the Whitney Houston North American leg of the Moment of Truth World Tour. The single was not promoted as heavily as previous singles from Whitney.

Critical reception[edit]

Robert Hilburn of La Times praised the duet thus: "The album ends on a graceful, intimate note as Houston is joined by her mother, singer Cissy Houston, on "I Know Him So Well," a ballad from the musical "Chess."[6] Rolling Stone's Vince Alleti criticized the song and production: "Walden covers all these bases, out-schlocking Masser with "I Know Him So Well" — a genuine if frankly derivative show tune (from Tim Rice's Chess) treated here with deadly reverence..."[7] St. Petersburg Times called the duet lifting and praised the mother's role: "Mom adds a brief, welcome moment of grainy soulfulness to the album."[8]

Chart performance[edit]

This single peaked at number 46 in Germany[9] and in the Netherlands it peaked at number 14.[10] The single did not appear in the Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart, unlike the 4 previous singles which all reached the Top 10.

Track listings and formats[edit]

  • CD single (Germany)
  1. "I Know Him So Well" – 4:26
  2. "Just The Lonely Talking Again" – 5:30
  3. "You're Still My Man" – 4:15
  • 7" Single (Germany)
    • A "I Know Him So Well" – 4:26
    • B "Just The Lonely Talking Again" – 5:30
  • 12" Single (Germany)
    • A1 "I Know Him So Well" – 4:26
    • B1 "Just The Lonely Talking Again" – 5:30
    • B2 "You're Still My Man" – 4:15

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1988) Peak
Germany (Official German Charts)[11] 46
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[12] 14

Geraldine McQueen and Susan Boyle version[edit]

"I Know Him So Well"
Single by Geraldine McQueen and Susan Boyle
Released March 21, 2011
Format CD single, digital download
Recorded 2011
Genre Pop
Writer(s) Tim Rice, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson
Peter Kay singles chronology
"The Official BBC Children in Need Medley"
"I Know Him So Well"
Susan Boyle chronology
"Perfect Day"
"I Know Him So Well "
"You Have to Be There"

"I Know Him So Well" was recorded by Peter Kay and Susan Boyle for Comic Relief 2011,[13] with Kay appearing as his alter ego Geraldine McQueen. Their version reached number 11 on the UK Singles Chart. A spoof music video was also created.

Melanie C and Emma Bunton version[edit]

"I Know Him So Well"
Single by Melanie C featuring Emma Bunton
from the album Stages
B-side "You'll Never Walk Alone"
Released 11 November 2012 (2012-11-11)
Recorded 2012
Genre Pop
Length 4:24 (album version)
3:27 (radio edit)
Label Red Girl
Producer(s) Peter-John Vettese
Melanie C singles chronology
"Let There Be Love"
"I Know Him So Well"
"Loving You"
Emma Bunton singles chronology
"All I Need to Know"
"I Know Him So Well"
Music video
"I Know Him So Well" on YouTube

"I Know Him So Well" was also covered by English recording artist Melanie C. The song was the first single to be taken from Melanie C's musical theatre-inspired and sixth studio album Stages. The song is a duet with Chisholm's fellow Spice Girls group member Emma Bunton. The song was released as a single on 11 November 2012.[14] The b-side of the single is a cover of "You'll Never Walk Alone" from the musical Carousel.[15] The music video for the song premiered on YouTube on 12 November 2012.

Formats and track listings[edit]

These are the formats and track listings of major single releases of "I Know Him So Well".

  • Digital download
  1. "I Know Him So Well"
  2. "You'll Never Walk Alone"
  • Limited CD single[16]
  1. "I Know Him So Well"
  2. "You'll Never Walk Alone"
  • Digital download
  1. "I Know Him So Well" (radio edit)

Live performances[edit]

Melanie C and Bunton performed the song on


Chart (2012) Peak
UK Singles Charts[17] 153
UK Indie Chart 14

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format
Worldwide 11 November 2012 Digital download, CD single

Other cover versions[edit]

The song has been covered by other music artists including:


  1. ^ a b Elaine Paige And Barbara Dickson - I Know Him So Well(Link redirected to OCC website) ChartArchive
  2. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 445–6. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  3. ^ Discography - I KNOW HIM SO WELL Barbara Dickson
  4. ^ ALL TIME BEST SELLING DUETS Elaine Paige, 5 January 2011
  5. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDkCKIFlD84, retrieved 2016-01-04  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ "Album Review : Houston: Commercial Sparkle, Artistic Fizz". Articles.latimes.com. 2004-02-09. Retrieved 2014-03-29. 
  7. ^ "Whitney | Album Reviews". Rolling Stone. 1987-08-13. Retrieved 2014-03-29. 
  8. ^ "Whitney pulls out another bag of hits Series: RECORDS". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. 1987-06-14. Retrieved 2014-03-29. 
  9. ^ "charts.de". charts.de. Retrieved 2014-03-29. 
  10. ^ [1][dead link]
  11. ^ "Musicline.de – {{{artist}}} Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  12. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Whitney Houston, Cissy Houston search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40.
  13. ^ According to reports Susan Boyle and Peter Kay are set to do a duet STV, 28 February 2011
  14. ^ "Melanie C featuring Emma Bunton - 'I Know Him So Well' - Out November 11". MelanieC.net. 2012-10-15. Retrieved 2014-03-29. 
  15. ^ "You'll Never Walk Alone". MelanieC.net. 2012-10-19. Retrieved 2014-03-29. 
  16. ^ "Melanie C - Discography". Melaniec.net. Retrieved 2014-03-29. 
  17. ^ "The Official UK Singles Chart for the week ending October 22, 2012". UKChartsPlus (Milton Keynes: IQ Ware Ltd) (475). 
Preceded by
"I Want to Know What Love Is" by Foreigner
UK number one single
3 February 1985 - 3 March 1985
Succeeded by
"You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)" by Dead or Alive