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"The Loco-Motion" is a 1962 pop song written by American songwriters Gerry Goffin and Carole King. "The Loco-Motion" was originally written for Dee Dee Sharp but Sharp turned the song down.[1] The song is notable for appearing in the American Top 5 three times, each time in a different decade: in 1962 by the American pop singer Little Eva,(U.S. No. 1);[2] in 1974 by American band Grand Funk Railroad (U.S. No. 1);[3] and finally by Australian singer Kylie Minogue in 1988 (U.S. No. 3).[4]

The song is a popular and enduring example of the dance-song genre: much of the lyrics are devoted to a description of the dance itself, usually done as a type of line dance. However, the song came before the dance.

"The Loco-Motion" was also the second song to reach No. 1 by two different musical acts. The earlier song to do this was "Go Away Little Girl", also written by Goffin and King. It is one of only nine songs to achieve this feat.[5]

Little Eva version


King and Goffin wrote "The Loco-Motion" in hopes to have it recorded by Dee Dee Sharp who had a smash hit with "Mashed Potato Time". Sharp passed on the song leaving the opportunity open for Eva Boyd who had recorded the demo.[1] Her version was released and her name was changed to Little Eva. Boyd was actually Carole King's babysitter, having been introduced to King and husband Gerry Goffin by The Cookies, a local girl group who would also record for the songwriters. "The Loco-Motion" was the first release by the new Dimension Records company, whose releases were mostly penned and produced by Goffin and King. There are two common versions of the song in circulation; one includes handclaps during the verses, the other has no handclaps. King performed the backup vocals in the recording.


In the United States, "The Loco-Motion" was the sixth most successful single of 1962 according to Billboard. It was also the third most successful single of 1962 in South Africa.[6] In March 1965, Little Eva sang the song on the ABC-TV series Shindig!, and this is the only known video of her singing this song. A cover version of the song was recorded quickly by British girl group The Vernons Girls and scored the chart the same week as the Little Eva version. The Vernons Girls' version stalled at No. 47 in the UK, while the Little Eva version reached No. 2 on the UK charts. It re-entered the chart some ten years later and almost became a top ten again, peaking at No. 11. The Little Eva version of the song was later featured in the David Lynch film Inland Empire (2006). "The Loco-Motion" is ranked No. 359 on the Rolling Stone magazine's list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time".

"The Loco-Motion" Myth

The widely believed story of how the song "The Loco-Motion" came to be is that Carole King was playing music at home and Eva Boyd was doing some chores and started dancing to it; the dance The Loco-Motion was born. However, this is not true. Eva Boyd was introduced to Goffin and King and they realized she had a good singing voice, so they had her record "The Loco-Motion". Carole King stated this during an interview on National Public Radio (NPR) shortly after Little Eva died.[7]

As the song came before the dance, there was no dance when the song was originally written. When the song became a smash hit, Eva Boyd ended up having to create a dance to go along with the song. Carole King stated this in her "One to One" concert video. In live performances of the song, Little Eva can be seen doing her version of the dance.

Another bit of the conventional lore is that she had received only $50 for "The Loco-Motion". However, although she never owned the rights to her recordings, it seems $50 was actually her weekly salary during the years she was making records (an increase of $15 from what Goffin and King had been paying her as nanny). In 1971, she moved to South Carolina and lived in obscurity on menial jobs and welfare, until being rediscovered in 1987.[8] She died of cervical cancer in 2003.

Top-40 DJ Dan Ingram has been quoted as saying that he believes the original "The Loco-Motion" was recorded by Carole King herself. Producer Pete Waterman has also stated he believes it is King singing on the recording.[9] King can be clearly heard among the backing singers on the Little Eva recording.Script error: No such module "Unsubst".

Chart performance

Chart (1962-1963) Peak Position[6]
Canadian Singles Chart 1
Norwegian Singles Chart 1
UK Singles Chart 2
US Billboard Hot 100 1

Sylvie Vartan version

In 1962, French singer Sylvie Vartan recorded a cover of "The Loco-Motion" in French called "Le Locomotion". Vartan's version went to number 1 in France on October 13, 1962 and remained there for one week.[10]

Grand Funk Railroad version


American hard rock group Grand Funk Railroad recorded a cover version of the song in 1974, produced by Todd Rundgren. The decision to play the song came about after guitarist Mark Farner was heard whistling the song in the studio. The Grand Funk version of the song featured guitars, several layers of harmony, and heavy drums. Some radio stations replaced the guitar instrumental section with the repeat of the Bridge instead, ("You got to sway your hips now".), because the disc jockeys strongly felt that the static guitar solo was considered too experimental hard rock for airplay on commercial radio station.Script error: No such module "Unsubst".

During the 2000s, this version of the song was featured in advertisements for the Japanese technology and communications company SoftBank, featuring the pop group SMAP. SMAP also used the song on their television variety show SMAP×SMAP for a music video, singing along to the original Grand Funk recording rather than covering it. The song is a downloadable content for Rock Band 3.


"The Loco-Motion" appeared on their album Shinin' On, and was released as a single in May 1974. It charted at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. It reached number 5 in Australia, peaked at number 1 in Canada, and reached number 11 in Germany.

Chart performance

Chart (1974-1975) Peak Position
Australian Singles Chart 5
Austrian Singles Chart 7
Canadian Singles Chart 1
German Singles Chart 11
US Billboard Hot 100 1

Carole King version

Carole King also recorded a version of "The Loco-Motion" for her 1980 studio album Pearls: Songs of Goffin and King. The album peaked at No. 44 and spawned King's last top 40 hit to-date, "One Fine Day", which would reach No. 12 on the charts. King herself also sings the "Loco-Motion" on her live album The Living Room Tour released July 12, 2005. The album peaked at No. 17 on the US album chart on July 30, 2005.[11]

Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin version

In 1986, Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin released a cover version of the song as a single in May. The duo had scored a UK No. 1 hit back in 1981 with their cover of "It's My Party", but had achieved little success since. For this single, they embarked on a big promotional push in an attempt to gain a second significant hit. The single however stalled at No. 70 in the UK charts in June.[12]

Kylie Minogue version


Australian pop star Kylie Minogue released a cover version of the song in July 1987 as her debut single. After an impromptu performance of the song at an Australian rules football charity event with the cast of the Australian soap opera Neighbours, Minogue was signed a record deal by Mushroom Records to release the song as a single. The single was released on July 28, 1987 in Australia, Sweden, and Italy under the title "Locomotion".

The success of the song in her home country resulted in her signing a record deal with PWL Records in London and to working with the successful team Stock Aitken & Waterman.[14] On July 28, 1988, a re-recorded version produced by Stock Aitken & Waterman was released worldwide with the title "The Loco-Motion". This release again was a major success, reaching the top five in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada. Minogue's version of the track appeared in the 1988 film Arthur 2: On the Rocks, starring Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli. Minogue's version of "The Loco-Motion" substitutes the Australian term railway for the American usage of railroad in the song's lyrics.


The 1987 "Locomotion" release was a huge hit in Minogue's native Australia, reaching No. 1 on the Kent Music Report singles chart and remaining there for seven weeks.[15] The song set the record as the biggest Australian single of the decade. Throughout Europe and Asia the song also performed well on the music charts, reaching number one in Belgium, Finland, Ireland, Israel, Japan, and South Africa.

The 1988 release of the song in the United Kingdom debuted at No. 2 on the singles chart — the highest entry on the UK singles charts by a female artist — due to strong 7" single sales and radio airplay. It remained in the number two position for four weeks before falling to number three. With sales of 440,000 it was the 11th best selling single of the year.[16] The song became Minogue's third top five rated single in the UK and remains one of her most successful single releases to date.

During late 1988, Minogue traveled to the United States to promote "The Loco-Motion", where she did many interviews and performances on American television. The song was also used in the hit film around the world at the time, Arthur 2: On the Rocks starring Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli. "The Loco-Motion" debuted at No. 80 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and later climbed to No. 3 for two weeks. The song was Minogue's second single to chart in the U.S., but her first to reach the top ten. To this day, the song remains as her highest charting single in the United States; however, her second overall and most recent song to reach the top ten was 2002's "Can't Get You Out of My Head", which reached No. 7 on the chart, and ended up outselling "The Loco-Motion". In Canada, the song also reached the top spot in the pop sales charts.

In 2012, during her K25 anniversary, the song re-entered the Japanese Singles Chart at No. 83.[17]

Music video

The music video for "Locomotion" was filmed at Essendon Airport and the ABC studios in Melbourne, Australia. The video for "The Loco-Motion" was created out of footage from the Australian music video.

Near the end of 1988, the song was nominated for Best International Single at the Canadian Music Industry Awards.

Formats and track listings

These are the formats and track listings of major single releases of "The Loco-motion".

"The Loco-motion" (1988)

● UK 7" vinyl single
  1. "The Loco-motion" (7" mix) — 3:17
  2. "I'll Still Be Loving You" — 3:45
● UK 12" vinyl single
  1. "The Loco-motion" (Kohaku Mix) — 5:59
  2. "I'll Still Be Loving You" — 3:45
● UK 12" remix
  1. "The Loco-motion" (Sankie Mix) — 6:35
  2. "I'll Still Be Loving You" — 3:45
● USA 7" vinyl single/Cassingle
  1. "The Loco-motion" (LP version) — 3:17
  2. "I'll Still Be Loving You" — 3:45
● USA 12" vinyl single
  1. "The Loco-motion" (Kohaku Mix) — 5:59
  2. "The Loco-motion" (Sankie Mix) — 6:35
  3. "The Loco-motion" (LP version) — 3:17
  4. "I'll Still Be Loving You" — 3:45
● German CD single
  1. "The Loco-motion" (Kohaku Mix) — 5:59
  2. "I'll Still Be Loving You" — 3:45

iTunes digital release (2009)

●"Locomotion" (Australian version)
  1. "Locomotion"
  2. "Locomotion" (Chugga-Motion Mix)
  3. "Locomotion" (The Girl Meets Boy Mix)
  4. "Getting Closer"
  5. "Getting Closer" (UK mix) (previously unreleased)
  6. "Getting Closer" (UK instrumental) (previously unreleased)
  7. "Getting Closer" (Extended Oz Mix)
  8. "Getting Closer" (Extended Oz Instrumental) (previously unreleased)
  9. "Glad to Be Alive"
● "The Loco-Motion"
  1. "The Loco-Motion" (7" mix)
  2. "The Loco-Motion" (The Kohaku Mix)
  3. "The Loco-Motion" (7" instrumental) (previously unreleased)
  4. "The Loco-Motion" (7" backing track) (previously unreleased)
  5. "I'll Still Be Loving You"
  6. "I'll Still Be Loving You" (instrumental) (previously unreleased)
  7. "I'll Still Be Loving You" (backing track) (previously unreleased)

Live performances

Minogue performed the song on the following concert tours:

The song was also performed on:

She performed The Abbey Road Sessions version of the song on:

Chart performance

Other versions


Orange Range used the melody line of "The Loco-Motion" on their 2004 song "Locolotion" which became the number-one success on the Japanese singles chart. The commercially successful song brought about controversy because Goffin and King were not indicated on its songwriting credit; their names were later added as co-writers to avoid lawsuits, when the song was featured on the band's musiQ album released during the same year.

Chart succession

Preceded by
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Billboard Hot 100 number-one single (Little Eva version)
August 25, 1962 (one week)
Succeeded by
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Preceded by
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Hot R&B Sides number-one single (Little Eva version)
August 25, 1962 - September 8, 1962 (three weeks)
Succeeded by
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Preceded by
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Billboard Hot 100 number-one single (Grand Funk Railroad version)
May 4, 1974 - May 11, 1974 (two weeks)
Succeeded by
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Preceded by
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Australian number-one single (Kylie Minogue version)
August 10, 1987 - September 21, 1987 (seven weeks)
Succeeded by
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  1. 1.0 1.1 Script error: No such module "citation/CS1".
  2. Little Eva, "The Loco-Motion" Chart Positions Retrieved March 21, 2015
  3. Grand Funk Railroad, "The Loco-Motion" Chart Positions Retrieved March 21, 2015
  4. Kylie Minogue, "The Loco-Motion" Chart Positions Retrieved March 21, 2015
  5. Billboard Hot 100 Chart 50th Anniversary
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Song title 46 - The Loco-Motion
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  9. BBC Radio 4 Desert island Discs, 1995
  10. InfoDisc : Tout les Titres N° 1 des 60's
  11. [[[:Template:BillboardURLbyName]] Discography - Carole King]
  12. Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin - UK singles chart
  13. The Loco-Motion: Lyrics from
  14. Script error: No such module "webarchive". - - Accessed November 22, 2008
  15. 15.0 15.1 Script error: No such module "citation/CS1". N.B. The Kent Report chart was licensed by ARIA between 1983 and 19 June 1988.
  16. Kylie - The Biography, Sean Smith
  17. Kylie Minogue Chart Positions Retrieved March 21, 2015
  18. 18.0 18.1 - Charts
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  20. South Africa Singles Chart
  21. [1] - Cashbox Top 100 Singles NOVEMBER 12, 1988
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  24. Script error: No such module "citation/CS1". Select singles in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type The Loco-Motion in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  25. Script error: No such module "citation/CS1". If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH.Script error: No such module "String".
  26. List of Top 25 singles for 1987 in Australia
  27. German Top 20 - The Chart Of 1988
  29. UK Singles Top 50 for Year - 1988
  30. Top 100 Hits of 1988/Top 100 Songs of 1988
  31. Kylie Minogue - Impossible Princess
  32. Script error: No such module "citation/CS1".
  33. Thomas and the Magic Railroad Gullane Pictures, dir. Britt Allcroft, 2000

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External links

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