This was written by George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam, who record as Boy Meets Girl and had a hit in 1988 with "Waiting For A Star To Fall
." George and Shannon were a romantic couple, and secured a record deal with A&M Records after writing a batch of songs together and playing the Seattle club scene. They spoke with Songfacts to tell the story behind this song.
George: "They asked us to write for Janet Jackson's next record, so Shannon and I went to work and came up with our song How Will I Know, which was sent to Janet Jackson's people. They passed on it because it wasn't right for her at the time - she was in the midst of doing her Control
Shannon: "It wasn't right for that, but then our publishing company played it for Gerry Griffith when he was in Los Angeles gathering material for the unknown Whitney Houston. He loved it, sent it to Clive (Davis), and Clive said, 'We must have it.' And we said, 'Whitney who? Clive who?'
George: "Shannon and I had our first record deal, so we were caught up in Boy Meets Girl land, and the idea of writing for other people, this is pre-Whitney Houston and pre- our understanding of songwriting for other people, so it was really a big deal when they wanted to hold onto this for Whitney Houston. Then we started checking into it and thought, well, this could be kind of a neat deal. Our good friends, brother team Alan and Preston Glass, called us where they were working with Narada Michael Walden. They were recording Whitney Houston on 'How Will I Know' and they said, 'Guys, you've got to hear this.' They played it over the phone, and I swear, her voice, hearing the first take of 'How Will I Know' on the phone we knew we were on to something special, too."