Saturday, January 15, 2011

LITTLE EVA: "WILL YOU LOVE ME TOMORROW" (circa 1965)

Little Eva

Click above to hear "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?"

The Gerry Goffin/Carole King classic "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" has been covered by just about anyone who has ever held a microphone. It was a massive hit for The Shirelles (and quite controversial at the time) and was also recorded by King herself on her album Tapestry.

This version, performed by tiny vocal powerhouse Little Eva, has fallen through the cracks, despite being one of the more effective recordings of the song. Little Eva's rich, soulful tone, mixed with her naïve look (which is surprising, considering her hardscrabble life) and youthful phrasing makes the song all-the-more poignant.

Little Eva (born Eva Narcissus Boyd) was born in North Carolina, but made her way to Brooklyn at a very young age. Working a series of menial jobs, she found herself babysitting the children of songwriting team Gerry Goffin and Carole King. Impressed with Eva's voice, they decided to write a song for her, and with dance songs like "The Twist" all the rage, they came up with "The Loco-Motion." Eva recorded the tune, and had a tremendous hit on her hands.

While Little Eva was not able to match the commercial success of "The Loco-Motion" she did record a number of other sides, including another Goffin/King classic, "Up on the Roof." She was also the inspiration for the heartbreakingly stark "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss.)" That song was a controversial hit for The Crystals, and was inspired by Eva's confession to Carole King that her boyfriend regularly abused her.

As Eva's popularity was fading, she found herself again in menial jobs and getting by on welfare benefits, and it seemed she had left the music business behind for good. When interest in her biggest hit was revived in 1988, with Kylie Minogue's cover of "The Loco-Motion," Eva was able to make a comeback to performance and recording becoming a popular fixture on the oldies touring circuit.

Little Eva continued to perform until October 2001 when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. She retired in order to focus her attentions on healing, however she lost her battle with cancer in 2003. She was 59 years old.

Despite her hard-knock life and sudden, tragic death, Little Eva's immortality in rock history is assured.

LINKS
Little Eva performing "The Loco-Motion" live. (YouTube)
Little Eva performing her hit "The Loco-Motion"

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