Little Eva is undoubtedly the most famous babysitter in the history of rock and roll. When her songwriting employers asked her to record one of their songs she had no idea how successful it would turn out to be.
Eva Narcissus Boyd was born in 1945 in Belhaven, North Carolina, and had fifteen brothers and sisters. She moved to New York City to complete her education. Eva became the regular babysitter for Louise Goffin, daughter of Brill Building songwriters Gerry Goffin and Carole King. Through that connection, she became a backup singer on Ben E. King's Don't Play That Song (You Lied) in 1962, along with the Cookies -- Earl-Jean McRea, Dorothy Jones, and Margaret Ross.
Carole King was working out a song on the piano one day when Eva began a dance step, giving Gerry Goffin the idea for some lyrics. The result was a dance song, The Loco-Motion. Goffin and King brought Eva to the studio to record the song, backed by the Cookies and some inspired saxophone music. The time was right for a rocking dance song, which was popular in the early 60's. Within weeks after Eva turned seventeen, The Loco-Motion entered the music charts and shot to the top of the pop music lists in the late summer of 1962.
Eva was hot. Recording on the Dimension label later in 1962, she followed up with another Goffin-King song, this time a non-dance number titled Keep Your Hands Off My Baby. It reached number 12. The following year Little Eva had another dance tune hit, Let's Turkey Trot. An answer song to The Loco-Motion was issued on Gone Records: Little Eva, by the Locomotions.
Eva had other minor hits, including Old Smokey Locomotion and a duet with Big Dee Irwin that was a cover of Bing Crosby's Swinging On A Star, both in 1963. Eva Boyd is a good singer. Just before her career began as a teenager she had no training or experience in singing outside of her church choir. She was able to handle many types of songs, although some were a little difficult for her.
The Cookies, meanwhile, went on to score with some hits of their own on the Dimension label, including Chains (later covered by the Beatles) and Don't Say Nothin' Bad (About My Baby). They also sang backup on some records recorded by Eydie Gorme. Eva's sister Idalia Boyd had a minor hit with Hula Hooping, a song about another fad.
The Beatles and other British groups had an enormous impact on popular music beginning in 1964, and Little Eva was one of many American artists who were victims of the changes that were taking place. She recorded for other labels such as Spring and Amy. In the 1970's, she left the music business. She eventually returned home to Bellhaven, North Carolina. Little Eva returned to performing on the oldies circuit in the 1990's.
Her song The Loco-Motion is identified with the pre-Beatles era of rock music and was a legitimate number one hit, typical of the Brill Building style of music that was so prominent in the early 60's. A version of the song recorded by Grand Funk Railroad reached number one in the 70's and another version by Kylie Minogue went to number three in the 80's. The song with the infectious beat that Little Eva brought to prominence in 1962 is remembered fondly by lovers of 60's rock-and-roll.
Eva Boyd battled cancer of the cervix for years in her later life. She performed up unil 2001 when her cancer became too much for her to continue. She lost her battle and died on April 9, 2003 at Lenoir Memorial Hospital in Kinston, North Carolina, leaving two daughters and a son.
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