The American singer Little Eva, best known for recording The Loco-Motion as a teenager in the early1960s, has died after a long battle with cervical cancer, aged 57.

Perhaps the most famous babysitter in the history of rock'n'roll, Little Eva got her big break when her songwriting employers asked her to record one of their songs.

Eva Narcissus Boyd was born in 1945 in Bellhaven, North Carolina, and had 15 brothers and sisters. She moved to New York to complete her education.

Eva became the regular babysitter for Louise Goffin, daughter of songwriters team of Carole King and Gerry Goffin. Through that connection, she became a back-up singer on Ben E King's Don't Play That Song (You Lied) in 1962, along with the Cookies - Earl-Jean McRea, Dorothy Jones, and Margaret Ross.

The story goes that Carole King was working out a song on the piano one day when Eva began a dance step, giving Gerry Goffin the idea for some lyrics. The result was a dance song, The Loco-Motion. They asked Eva to record a demo

of the song and were so impressed with the result that although they had originally written it for Dee Dee Sharp, already an established singer, they decided to go ahead and release the Little Eva version.

It was a decision they would not regret. As a dance song with a girl group sound it captured the mood of the time.

Within weeks Eva turned 17 and The Loco-Motion shot to the top the charts in the

summer of 1962. Her salary as the Goffins's babysitter was $35 a week. Her earnings from The Locomotion were reported to be around $30,000. She appeared on television shows and in numerous magazines. She performed live in the US and did several UK tours.

Later in 1962, she followed up with another Goffin-King song, this time a non-dance number titled Keep Your Hands Off My Baby. It reached No 12 in the charts. Her third record, Let's Turkey Trot (which reached No 20), was another dance craze tune.

The next record was a cliched combination of On Top of Old Smokey and

The Loco-Motion, called Old Smokey Locomotion (which reached No 18). None of her future releases even made the Top 100.

She did continue making demos, and there was one duet, with Big Dee Irvin, of Bing Crosby's Swinging on a Star (which reached No 38). For a while, she worked as a backing singer for artists such as the Drifters and Ben E King, but as a viable artist her career was over. She recorded for other labels such as Spring and Amy. In the 1970s, she left the music business. She eventually returned home to Bellhaven to bring up her children.

The Cookies, meanwhile, went on to score with some hits of their own on the Dimension label, including Chains (later covered by the Beatles) and Don't Say Nothin' Bad (About My Baby). They also sang back-up on some records recorded by Eydie Gorme. Eva's sister, Idalia Boyd, had a minor hit with Hula Hooping, a song about another fad.

In the 1990s, Eva resumed her singing career and became a popular attraction on the ''oldies'' circuit undertaking several tours with Little Richard. One of her last appearances was with Bobby Vee at the Illinois state fair in 2001. She continued until her illness made it impossible for her to work.

The Loco-motion has been revived several times since 1962. Eva's original record was a hit again when it was reissued in Britain in 1971, while such diverse figures as heavy rock band Grand Funk Railroad and Kylie Minogue recorded successful versions, in 1974 and 1988 respectively.

Eva leaves two daughters, a son, and 15 grandchildren.

Little Eva (Eva Narcissus Boyd), singer; born June 29, 1945; died April 10, 2003.