Despite being remembered mostly for her 1962 No.1 hit “The Loco-Motion”, she inspired and is the subject of another very famous song
Remembering Little Eva on her birthday
An iconic name from the early 1960’s Pop music scene, Little Eva was born Eva Narcissus Boyd on June 29, 1943 in Belhaven, North Carolina. Little Eva became famous in 1962 with the song “The Loco-Motion”, her only No.1 hit. But despite her voice being praised by people in the industry, the success of “The Loco-Motion,” stereotyped her as a dance-craze singer and she was given limited material, which stagnated her career. The song “The Loco-Motion” was written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, who first met Little Eva when she worked as a babysitter for the couple. A little known fact, is that Little Eva is the subject of one of Gerry Goffin and Carole King’s most popular and iconic songs, “He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)”, performed by The Crystals. The couple wrote the song after discovering that Little Eva was being regularly beaten by her boyfriend. When inquired why she tolerated such treatment, Eva replied without batting an eyelid that her boyfriend’s actions were motivated by his love for her. Little Eva also released other singes including “Keep Your Hands Off My Baby,” “Let’s Turkey Trot,” and a remake of the Bing Crosby standard “Swinging on a Star”. But, limited by the success she first had with “The Loco-Motion”, by 1964, her career plummeted. She retired from the music industry in 1971, penniless, and returned with her three young children to North Carolina, where they lived in obscurity. She made a brief comeback to the show business in 1988 after the success of Kylie Minogue’s version of “The Loco-Motion”. Though discretely, she continued to perform until she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in October 2001. Little Eva sadly passed away on April 10, 2003 in Kinston, North Carolina, at the age of 59. Her gravestone has the image of a steam locomotive prominently engraved on the front and the epitaph reads: “Singing with the Angels”.
Watch Little Eva performing “The Loco-Motion” on the TV show Shindig! in 1962
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