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"I Know Him So Well" is a song from the concept album and subsequent musical Chess by Tim RiceBenny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus. 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.


 [hide*1 Original version

Original version[edit]Edit

The duet was number one in the UK Singles Chart for four weeks in 1985,[2] when released as a single by Elaine Paige (as Florence) and Barbara Dickson (as Svetlana), who 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]

Original recording credits[edit]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]Edit

"I Know Him So Well"
Single by Whitney Houston & Cissy Houston
from the album Whitney
Released November 30, 1988
Format CD SingleMaxi-Single7" single12" single
Recorded 1986-1987
Genre SoulgospelR&B
Length 4:30
Label Arista
Writer(s) Tim RiceBjorn 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 sophomore 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 theWhitney 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]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."[5] 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..."[6] St. Petersburg Times called duet lifting and praised the mother's role: "Mom adds a brief, welcome moment of grainy soulfulness to the album."[7]

Chart performance[edit]Edit

This single peaked at number 46 in Germany[8] and in the Netherlands it peaked at number 14.[9] 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]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]Edit

Chart (1988) Peak


Germany (Media Control Charts)[10] 46
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[11] 14

Kenny Loggins and Roy Orbison versionEdit

“I Know Her So Well”
Single by Kenny Loggins and Roy Orbison
from the album Chess (soundtrack)
Released Febuary 13, 1989
Format 7" single
Recorded December 3, 1988
Genre Pop
Length 4:17
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Tim Rice, Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus
Producer Benny Andersson, Tim Rice, Björn Ulvaeus
Kenny Loggins singles chronology
"One Night in Bangkok"
"I Know Her So Well"
"Tell Her"

Roy Orbison singles chronology
"You Got It"
"I Know Her So Well"
"She's a Mystery to Me"

In 1989, Kenny Loggins and Roy Orbison, who play Freddie Trumper and Anatoly Sergievsky, recorded a song called "I Know Her So Well", which released a new version as a single in Febuary 13, 1989, and a soundtrack album called Chess, or a musical of the same name. It was released on Loggins' 1990 bonus track sixth studio album Back to Avalon. It peeked the Billboard Hot 100 on number five chart and it peeked the UK Singles Chart on number one chart. In film, Sheena Easton and Linda Ronstadt, play Florence Vassy and Svetlana Sergievskaya, sang this part of the song.


  • Kenny Loggins – vocals
  • Roy Orbison – vocals
  • Benny Andersson – writer, producer, arrangement
  • Andre Eljas – arrangement
  • Björn Ulvaeus – writer, producer
  • Tim Rice – writer, producer

Geraldine McQueen and Susan Boyle version[edit]Edit

"I Know Him So Well"
Single by Geraldine McQueen andSusan Boyle
Released March 21, 2011
Format CD singledigital download
Writer(s) Tim RiceBjorn UlvaeusBenny 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,[12] 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]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
Format *CD single*digital download
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.[13] The b-side of the single is a cover of "You'll Never Walk Alone" from the musical Carousel.[14] The music video for the song premiered on YouTube on 12 November 2012.

Formats and track listings[edit]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[15]
  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]Edit

Melanie C and Bunton performed the song on


Chart (2012) Peak


UK Singles Charts[16] 153
UK Indie Chart 14

Release history[edit]Edit

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

Other cover versions[edit]Edit

The song has been covered by other music artists including:

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