Little Eva

  • R&B/Pop singer born Eva Boyd in Belhaven North Carolina in 1943. Died in 2003 of cervical cancer.
  • Boyd sang in a family choir at her church. The family moved to Brooklyn New York when she was fifteen years old. Teenage Boyd liked to sing, and she connected with a local girl group called The Cookies, occasionally singing with the group when one of the girls was not available. The Cookies had recorded songs written by the songwriting team of Carole King and Gerry Goffin, and their mutual relationship led to Boyd working for King and Goffin as a babysitter.
  • In 1961, King and Goffin wrote a dance song called The Loco-Motion, and they hoped that Dee Dee Sharp would record it, but Sharp passed on the song. Realizing that Boyd had a good singing voice, they had her record a demo of the song. The backing vocals to the song included The Cookies as well as King. They presented the demo to Don Kirshner, who had released several other “girl group” songs by the songwriting duo. Kirshner was impressed and he released the demo in 1962. Boyd took the stage name of Little Eva, which is how her aunt Eva always referred to her – Big Eva and Little Eva.
  • The Loco-Motion soon became a #1 hit on the Hot 100 and on several international charts, and it reached #2 in the UK. In Rolling Stone’s 2004 version of their list of the greatest songs of all time, Little Eva’s version of The Loco-Motion was ranked #359. Grand Funk Railroad’s 1974 cover of the song also topped the Hot 100 (the second song ever to top the chart twice with two different artists), and Kylie Minogue’s 1987 cover peaked at #3.
  • Her success with The Loco-Motion led to more recordings. Later in 1962, she released Keep Your Hands Off My Baby, another King-Goffin song. It peaked at #12 on the Hot 100 and #6 on the Hot R&B Singles chart. An album was released titled L-L-L-L-Loco-Motion, but it did not chart. Dick Clark signed her to tour on his Caravan of Stars tour in 1963 – she was set to perform in Dallas the night that John Kennedy was assassinated in that city. No show that night…
  • Little Eva continued to tour and record in the 60s, performing throughout the U.S. and Europe, but her success quickly faded. Another dance song, Let’s Turkey Trot, reached #20 in 1963, and a duet cover with Big Dee Irwin of Bing Crosby’s Swinging On a Star peaked at #38. Seven more singles released between 1963 and 1967 failed, and she left the music industry in 1971, on welfare and with very little money to her name. Other than the $30,000 she received in royalties for The Loco-Motion, she was making $50 a week during her recording years.
  • After Minogue’s cover of The Loco-Motion charted in 1987, interest in Little Eva led to a comeback on the oldies concert circuit. She recorded an album titled Back On Track in 1988 that featured mellow jazz and soul songs. She continued to perform until 2001, when she was diagnosed with cancer. She died two years later and was buried in a small cemetary in her home town in North Carolina.
  • There is only one known clip of Little Eva performing The Loco-Motion, and the video on YouTube obviously is edited with the studio track dubbed over the video. It was a performance on the ABC-TV show Shindig! from 1965. Enjoy!

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