ABOVE: Little Eva and Sharona Alperin.
WELCOME TO A special day in teenage rock ‘n’ roll. On this date in 1962, nineteen-year-old Little Eva topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart with “The Loco-Motion.” On the same date 17 years later, The Knack hit number one with “My Sharona,” written about eighteen-year-old Sharona Alperin, girlfriend of lead singer Doug Fieger.
“The Loco-Motion” and “My Sharona” have something else in common — “the knack” and The Knack. A lyric to the Little Eva song goes, “Well, now, I think you’ve got the knack,” and “My Sharona” appeared on the album, Get the Knack.
EVA BOYD’S ROAD to chart success began in the Brooklyn living room of songwriters Carole King and Gerry Goffin. Boyd was baby-sitting the couple’s daughter when King tried out a melody that reminded Goffin of a locomotive. He wrote lyrics for “a brand new dance” that “everyone is doin’.” Boyd sang and danced to it to with Louise, King-Goffin’s little girl, and the couple asked her to make a demo of the tune.
King and Goffin initially wanted singer Dee Dee Sharp to record “The Loco-Motion,” but producer Don Kirshner thought Boyd sounded just fine on the demo. She was still eighteen when she recorded the song, taking the name “Little Eva.”
Although she never matched the success of “The Loco-Motion,” Little Eva did record three more top-40 songs, starting with “Keep Your Hands Off My Baby,” also written by King and Goffin.
WHILE NOT THE FIRST teenager to inspire a popular song, Sharona Alperin may have been the most viewed. The cover art for the single of “My Sharona” featured a dark-haired, bra-less young woman in a tank top and jeans —Alperin.
“That was, like, my normal outfit, what I wore all the time,” Alperin told National Public Radio in 2010. “I guess I didn’t look at myself as a celebrity, but people were very excited when they met me. And I remember going on tour, and seeing sometimes people dress up. And I’d say, ‘What are you dressed up as?’ And they would say, ‘Sharona.’”
Alperin was seventeen when she started dating Fieger, who co-wrote as well as sang The Knacks’ “My Sharona.” The song spent six weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1979 and was the second-biggest hit of the year, trailing only Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff.”