Little Eva

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Little Eva
In 1962
In 1962
Background information
Birth nameEva Narcissus Boyd
Born(1943-06-29)June 29, 1943
Belhaven, North Carolina, U.S.
DiedApril 10, 2003(2003-04-10) (aged 59)
Kinston, North Carolina, U.S.
Genres
Occupation(s)Singer
Years active1961–1971, 1987–2001
Labels
Associated acts

Eva Narcissus Boyd (June 29, 1943 – April 10, 2003), known by the stage name of Little Eva, was an American pop singer, well known for her 1962 hit "The Loco-Motion". Although some sources claim that her stage name was inspired by a character from the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, she stated in an interview that she was named after her aunt, which prompted her family to call her "Little Eva".

Biography[edit]

Boyd was born in Belhaven, North Carolina in 1943 and had twelve siblings. At the age of fifteen, she moved to the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn, New York.[1][2] As a teenager, Boyd worked as a maid and earned extra money as a babysitter for songwriters Carole King and Gerry Goffin.[2]

It is often claimed that Goffin and King were amused by Boyd's particular dancing style, so they wrote "The Loco-Motion" for her and had her record it as a demo (the record was intended for Dee Dee Sharp). However, as King said in an interview with NPR and in her "One to One" concert video, they knew she could sing when they met her, and it would be just a matter of time before they would have her record songs they wrote, the most successful being "The Loco-Motion". Music producer Don Kirshner of Dimension Records was impressed by the song and Boyd's voice and had it released.[2] The song reached No. 1 in the United States in 1962. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.[2] After the success of "The Loco-Motion", Boyd was stereotyped as a dance-craze singer and was given limited material.

The same year, Goffin and King wrote "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)" (performed by the Crystals) after discovering that Boyd was being regularly beaten by her boyfriend.[3] When they inquired why she tolerated such treatment, Eva replied without batting an eyelid that her boyfriend's actions were motivated by his love for her.[3]

Boyd's other single recordings were "Keep Your Hands Off My Baby", "Let's Turkey Trot", and a remake of the Bing Crosby standard "Swinging on a Star", recorded with Big Dee Irwin (though Boyd was not credited on the label).[4] Boyd also recorded the song "Makin' With the Magilla" for an episode of the 1964 Hanna-Barbera cartoon series The Magilla Gorilla Show.

In 1963, American Bandstand signed Boyd with Dick Clark's Caravan of Stars national U.S. tour and she was set to perform for the tour's 15th show, scheduled for the night of November 22, 1963 at the Memorial Auditorium in Dallas, Texas when suddenly the Friday evening event was cancelled, moments after U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated while touring Dallas in an open car caravan.[5][6]

Boyd continued to tour and record throughout the sixties, but her commercial potential plummeted after 1964. She retired from the music industry in 1971. Boyd never owned the rights to her recordings. Although the prevailing rumor in the 1970s was that she had received only $50 for "The Loco-Motion", it seems $50 was actually her weekly salary at the time she made her records (an increase of $15 from what Goffin and King had been paying her as nanny). Penniless, Boyd returned with her three young children to North Carolina, where they lived in obscurity.[7]

Interviewed in 1988 after the success of the Kylie Minogue recording of "The Loco-Motion", Boyd stated that she did not like the new version; however, its then-current popularity allowed her to make a comeback in show business.[8]

Boyd returned to live performing with other artists of her era on the cabaret and oldies circuits. She also occasionally recorded new songs.

The only existing footage of Little Eva performing "Loco-Motion" is a small clip from the ABC 1960s live show Shindig! wherein she sang a short version of the clip along with the famous dance steps. She also sang "Let's Turkey Trot" and the Exciters' song "I Want You to Be My Boy" in the same episode. This TV show was one of Boyd's final performances until 1988, when she began performing in concerts with Bobby Vee and other singers. In a 1991 Richard Nader concert, she performed "Loco-Motion" and "Keep Your Hands Off My Baby". The concert was partially documented on videotape, albeit of marginal quality.

Death[edit]

Boyd continued performing until she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in October 2001. She died on April 10, 2003, in Kinston, North Carolina, at the age of 59,[1] and is buried in a small cemetery in Belhaven, North Carolina. Boyd's gravesite was sparsely marked until July 2008, when a report by WRAL-TV of Raleigh, North Carolina highlighted deteriorating conditions at the cemetery and efforts by the city of Belhaven to have it restored.[9] A simple white cross had marked the site until a new gravestone was unveiled in November of that year. Boyd's new grey gravestone has the image of a steam locomotive prominently engraved on the front and the epitaph reads: "Singing with the Angels".[10]

Singles[edit]

Year Title Chart positions
US
[11]
US
R&B

[12]
UK
[13]
1962 "The Loco-Motion" 1 1 2
"Keep Your Hands Off My Baby" 12 6 30
1963 "Let's Turkey Trot" 20 16 13
"Swinging on a Star"
(with Big Dee Irwin)
38 7
"Old Smokey Loco-Motion" 48
"What I Gotta Do (To Make You Jealous)" 101
"Let's Start the Party Again" 123
1964 "Makin' with the Magilla"
1966 "Mama Said"[A]
"Bend It"[14]
1967 "Just One Word Ain't Enough"[14]
1972 "Loco-Motion" 11
1973 "Loco-Motion"
1986 "Loco-Motion" 87
  • A "Mama Said" also peaked at No. 96 on RPM Top Tracks

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Laing, Dave (April 14, 2003). "Little Eva The girl with the Loco-motion in her voice". The Guardian. Archived from the original on October 21, 2019. Retrieved September 21, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 148. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  3. ^ a b Dave Thompson (September 22, 1992). "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss) – The Crystals | Listen, Appearances, Song Review". AllMusic. Archived from the original on September 23, 2015. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
  4. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 324. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  5. ^ Fuentes, Jerry (June 4, 2012). "A Rock n' Roll Historian: Caravan of Stars Fall 1963 Tour". Rnrhistorian.blogspot.com. Archived from the original on March 30, 2019. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
  6. ^ "American Bandstand 1963 -All Time Hits Day- A Little Bit Of Soap, The Jarmels". YouTube. Archived from the original on June 12, 2021. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
  7. ^ "Little Eva". Spectropop.com. June 29, 1943. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
  8. ^ "Little Eva". The Daily Telegraph. April 14, 2003. Archived from the original on November 29, 2014. Retrieved April 14, 2012.
  9. ^ "Black Bottom Cemetery rising again". WRAL.com. July 28, 2008. Archived from the original on September 22, 2015. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
  10. ^ "New gravestone unveiled for 'Loco-Motion' singer". WRAL.com. November 10, 2008. Archived from the original on September 22, 2015. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
  11. ^ "Little Eva Chart History: Hot 100". Billboard. Archived from the original on November 2, 2020. Retrieved October 30, 2020.
  12. ^ "Little Eva Chart History: Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs". Billboard. Archived from the original on November 5, 2020. Retrieved October 30, 2020.
  13. ^ Peaks in the UK:
  14. ^ a b "Little Eva – The engine that Creed couldn't restart". Ctproduced.com. March 8, 2020. Archived from the original on January 18, 2021. Retrieved June 13, 2021.

External links[edit]

Media related to Little Eva at Wikimedia Commons