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The Legend of the Loco-Motion

Published: 4/10/2012

As legend has it, the song "The Loco-Motion" was born when married songwriting team Carole King and Gerry Goffin saw their babysitter, Eva Boyd, doing a unique dance while taking care of some chores. They wrote a song about her funny dance and looked for someone to record it. Magically, they discovered that the babysitter could sing as well as dance, so they asked her to record the song… and just like that, the world got a No. 1 hit, dance craze, and new singing sensation in the form of Little Eva. An amazing series of events!

Little Eva (Wikimedia Commons/Gobonobo)

Little Eva (Wikimedia Commons/Gobonobo)



But, like so many legends of pop culture, it's not entirely true. Boyd was indeed King's and Goffin's babysitter, but they knew full well that she could sing before “The Loco-motion” was ever written. And the song came first, before the dance. When “Loco-Motion” became a hit, Little Eva had to invent dance moves to go along with the lyrics (which vaguely describe a dance, but really don't provide the full picture).





Little Eva's recording career didn't last long past the 1962 release of "The Loco-Motion" (in 1971 she retired from the music industry). But the song itself has had staying power. It was covered by Grand Funk Railroad in 1974, soaring to No. 1 again, and by Kylie Minogue in 1987, hitting No. 3. When asked what she thought of Minogue's version, Boyd admitted that she didn't like it (though its success spurred a resurgence of her own career). We won't go so far as to say we don't like Minogue's version – it's an '80s classic – but we must admit being partial to Little Eva's classic, original version.

It’s been nearly 50 years since Little Eva recorded “The Loco-Motion.” Nine years after her death, we’re so glad she gave us this record to remember her by.

Written by Linnea Crowther



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