Eva Narcissus Boyd, 59, the teenager known as Little Eva when her first recording, "The Loco-Motion," hit No. 1 in 1962, died Thursday of cervical cancer at a hospital in Kinston, N.C., according to her manager, Brenda Cape.
Born in Bellhaven, N.C., Boyd moved to New York City as a teenager and auditioned for girl groups without much success. She was discovered by songwriters Carole King and Gerry Goffin while baby-sitting their daughter, Louise Goffin.
They asked her to sing their driving, dance-based song "The Loco-Motion," and then released Boyd's demo of it as a single. It shot to No. 1 on the pop and rhythm and blues charts in 1962.
Boyd had another success with "Keep Your Hands Off My Baby," which made the top 20 on both the pop and R&B; charts in 1962. The next year she recorded "Let's Turkey Trot" and "Swinging on a Star."
Through most the 1970s and '80s, Boyd was out of music and working as a waitress before oldies shows brought her back.