Saturday, August 25, 2012

50 years ago: “The Loco-Motion” hit #1…for the first time

The Loco-Motion

Little Eva

Writer(s): Gerry Goffin, Carole King (see lyrics here)

First Charted: June 30, 1962

Peak: 11 US, 13 CB, 12 HR, 13 RB, 2 UK, 12 CN, 49 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 3.0 radio, 23.28 video, 70.82 streaming

The Loco-Motion

Grand Funk Railroad

First Charted: March 9, 1974

Peak: 12 US, 11 CB, 11 HR, 14 RR, 12 CN, 5 AU, 7 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 3.0 radio, 13.6 video, 17.84 streaming

The Loco-Motion

Kylie Minogue

First Charted: July 13, 1987

Peak: 3 US, 4 CB, 3 RR, 39 AC, 2 UK, 17 AU, 11 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 0.5 US, 0.44 UK, 1.01 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 3.0 radio, 27.9 video, 51.17 streaming

Awards (Little Eva):

Click on award for more details.

Awards (Grand Funk):

Awards (Kylie):

About the Song:

Thanks to three chart runs in three decades by three different acts, “The Loco-Motion” is one of the most successful songs in history. It was also written by one of the most successful songwriting teams in history – Gerry Goffin and Carole King. Little Eva’s 1962 version hit #1 in the U.S. and Canada, as did the 1974 version by Grand Funk Railroad. Then in 1987, Kylie Minogue released a version which hit #1 in Australia and #3 in the U.S.

Eva Boyd was a nanny for the young songwriting couple of Goffin (22) and King (19) SF-L while also working as a backup singer for Tony Orlando, Neil Sedaka, and Mel Torme. FB According to myth, King was playing music at home and Eva was dancing to it with the baby, thus giving birth to the idea for “The Loco-Motion.” WK In reality, Goffin had the idea for the song a couple of years earlier. SF-L It wasn’t until after it was a hit that Eva had to come up with dance to accompany it. WK Goffin and King wanted Dee Dee Sharp, who had a hit with “Mashed Potato Time,” to sing it, but she turned it down. WK Eva had recorded the demo and producer Don Kirshner though she sounded fine. SF-L It was the debut hit for Little Eva, who was a teenager when the song charted. She only managed three more top 40 hits on the U.S. pop charts before her career fizzled out.

Grand Funk Railroad, however, was a different story. The rock band had more than a dozen charted songs under their belt, including the #1 song “We’re an American Band.” The band’s Don Brewer came in the studio singing it one day. The band thought it would be pretty tongue-in-cheek, SF-G but were convinced by producer Todd Rundgren to record it. When it hit #1, it was only the second time two different artists had taken the same song to the top of the Billboard Hot 100. FB The other song – “Go Away Little Girl” – hit #1 for Steve Lawrence in 1962 and Donny Osmond in 1971. It was also written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King.

There were similarities between Eva and Kylie’s success with the song. Both were teenagers when their versions – the debut single for each of them – charted. In Kylie’s case, she was an actress on the Australian soap opera Neighbours. At a charity event, she sang an impromptu version of the song which led to a record deal to release it as a single. WK


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First posted 12/4/2019; last updated 8/6/2023.

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