Little Eva: Loco-Motion & More

Eva Narcissus Boyd, who became known as Little Eva, was born on June 29, 1943. Although she is best known for her recording of “The Loco-Motion,” she recorded several other songs such as “Keep Your Hands Off My Baby,” “Let’s Turkey Trot,” and “Old Smokey Loco-Motion.”

“Loco-Motion” and a Big Break

Little Eva had her big break as a teenager when she was babysitting for singer Carole King and her husband Gerry Goffin. King and Goffin wrote the song “The Loco-Motion” and asked Little Eva to sing the demo.

King and Goffin loved the demo.  So, they released Little Eva’s version of the song, which became a No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hit in 1962.

Not many videos exist of Little Eva performing. The above video for “The Loco-Motion” seems to cobble together different scenes so it appears she performs the entire song. But reportedly the only existing video of her singing “The Loco-Motion” is a short clip from the show Shindig!

Below, however, is Little Eva singing “Let’s Turkey Trot,” another dance song. She performed the song on a March 3, 1965 episode of Shindig!

After “The Loco-Motion”

After “The Loco-Motion,” Little Eva worked with King and Goffin but she never saw the success of “The Loco-Motion” again. Little Eva recorded a demo for another King and Goffin classic, “One Fine Day.” But The Chiffons instead recorded the official release, scoring a hit with it.

Instead of getting “One Fine Day,” Little Eva recorded “Old Smokey Locomotion.” The song was a re-hash of “The Loco-Motion,” combining it with “On Top of Old Smokey.” The odd combination is kind of fun nonetheless.

King and Goffin wrote another song inspired by Little Eva: “He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss).” But the inspiration was unfortunate. The songwriters based the song on conversations with Little Eva, who told them her abusive boyfriend loved her.

Little Eva did not get to record the song.  Instead, the Crystals recorded “He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss),” which was produced by Phil Spector. King later said she regretted writing the song about domestic violence.

After her early success, Little Eva lived much of her life in obscurity in North Carolina. She never received much money from her music. And she retired from recording in 1971 and worked as a nanny. Still, she returned to doing some recording and touring on oldie circuits after Kylie Minogue had a 1988 hit with her version of “The Loco-Motion.”

Singing With the Angels

Little Eva performed until diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2001.  She passed away April 10, 2003.

In 2008, a local TV station found out her grave in Belhaven, North Carolina needed some work. The city restored the cemetery area and marked Little Eva’s grave with gravestone featuring a steam locomotive and the words “Singing with the Angels.”

What is your favorite Little Eva song? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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