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The “Loco-motion” Has Stopped: Little Eva Dead

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I’m not sure why this particular celebrity death bothers me so much: rock ‘n’ roll has been around long enough now that the first and second generation are dropping like flies from a combination of age and life style. Maybe it just seems wrong that someone named “Little,” the babysitter of Carole King’s children, would age and die – shouldn’t the loco-motion go on for ever?

    Singer Little Eva (full name: Eva Narcissus Boyd), died yesterday (April 10) in Kinston, N.C., after a long illness, according to her manager. Her exact age isn’t known but she was believed to be between 57 and 60 [AMG lists her birthdate as June 29, 1943].

    As a teenager, Little Eva was discovered when she was baby-sitting for singer Carole King and her husband Gerry Goffin. They asked her to sing a demo of the song “The Loco-Motion,” which they had written together. After hearing the demo, they decided to release the song as a single, and it became a No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hit in 1962. [Billboard]

Dave Marsh selected “The Loco-Motion” as the 55th greatest single of the rock era – it’s hard to resist the charging rhythm, the great King-Goffin melody, Eva’s ebullience, the Hairspray innocence of a dance-crazed age.

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About Eric Olsen

  • Bill Sherman

    This was the first rock ‘n’ roll single I ever bought: I remember, as a Connecticut pre-teen, trying to parse that line about “larning your ABCs.”

    Also liked her singing counterpoint on Big Dee Irwin’s remake of “Swinging On A Star.”

  • Aaron “Smokey” Arnold

    In Carole King’s ONE TO ONE video, she states that the story of Little Eva being discovered while baby sitting is an exaggerated myth. Apparently, King and Gerry Goffin had hired her to sing demos originally, and gave her the baby sitting job when there wasn’t enough work in the studio. It’s not like they came home to find her pushing a broom and singing, and hired her by chance on the spot, as the story’s often been told.