I Don't Know How To Love Him

Album: Jesus Christ Superstar (1970)
Charted: 47 28

Songfacts®:

  • Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice wrote this for the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar. The song is performed by Mary Magdalene in Act I of the play, as she realizes that Jesus is unlike any man she has ever encountered.
  • Rice and Webber discovered Yvonne Elliman, originally from Hawaii, at the Pheasantry folk club on Kings Road in Chelsea in 1969. They offered her the role of Mary Magdalene in the rock opera.
  • The music for Jesus Christ Superstar appeared long before the play. When Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice pitched the project, MCA Records had them first write one song to test the waters. That was "Superstar." Released as a single in 1969 with Murray Head on vocals, it did just well enough to warrant an album, which was issued the following year. In 1971, prior to the Broadway production, "I Don't Know How To Love Him" was released as a single, building interest in the play. In a Songfacts interview with Tim Rice, he said: "Ironically, the whole thing was not what we'd aimed for, because we were still really trying to write for the theatre, and this album was a kind of demonstration record."
  • Elliman played the Magdalene role in the 1973 film version of Jesus Christ Superstar and won a Golden Globe award for her performance.
  • A version by Helen Reddy was on the charts at the same time as Elliman's and fared better, reaching #13 US.
  • Elliman appeared in the Broadway version, where she met Bill Oakes, president of RSO Records and married him. Oakes introduced her to Eric Clapton, who asked her to sing backup vocals on "I Shot The Sheriff." She became part of Clapton's band and stayed with him for five years.
  • Barry Gibb and Robin Gibb of The Bee Gees wrote a couple of songs for Elliman: "Love Me," and "If I Can't Have You." She performed "If I Can't Have You" for the movie soundtrack of Saturday Night Fever, her greatest commercial success. It was Elliman's only #1 hit. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Garry - Anchorage, AK

Comments: 6

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyPer: http://www.oldiesmusic.com/news.htm {03-28-2018}...
    Yvonne Elliman and her husband were sentenced Tuesday (March 27th, 2018) in a Guam courtroom for a felony drug conviction (both had pleaded guilty in August). They were sentenced to a 14-day probation incarceration program which they will serve in Honolulu, where they live. She has already performed 120 hours of community service and paid a $5,000 fine. The judge will follow-up on the case in eight months.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn April 18th 1971, "I Don't Know How To Love Him" by Yvonne Elliman entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #80; and on June 6th it peaked at #28 (for 2 weeks) and spent 10 weeks on the Top 100...
    The week she entered the Top 100 at #80, Helen Reddy's covered version was at position #58...
    And the week that Ms. Reddy peaked at #13, Ms. Elliman was at #31...
    (See next post below for more info on Ms. Reddy's version).
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 14th 1971, "I Don't Know How To Love Him" by Helen Reddy entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #99; and on May 30th it peaked at #13 (for 3 weeks) and spent 20 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #12 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
    In Canada it peaked at #8 and in her native Australia it reached #2 on the Kent Music Report chart...
    Ms. Reddy celebrated her 72nd birthday four months ago on October 25th (2013).
  • Rob from Vancouver, CanadaI think she has a great voice. I wish i had been around to see the original musical.
  • Joe from Fairfax, VaElliman sang back up with Clapton on "The Core", on the Slowhand Album. Fantastic!
  • Howard from St. Louis Park, MnHelen Reddy recorded a cover version, which was also the title of her first American album in 1971. As for Yvonne Elliman's version, this was the only other song from Jesus Christ Superstar to crack the Top 40. The other was Superstar by Murray Head.
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