Thomas Paulsley LaBeff (July 20, 1935 – December 26, 2019), known as Sleepy LaBeef, was an American singer, musician and actor.
LaBeef was born in Smackover, Arkansas, the youngest of 10 children. The family name was originally LaBoeuf. He was raised on a farm growing cotton and watermelons, and received the nickname "Sleepy" because he had a lazy eye.
LaBeef became a fan of George Jones, Bill Monroe, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. He learned guitar, and moved to Houston, Texas, when he was 18. There, he sang gospel music on local radio and put together a bar band to play venues as well as radio programs such as the Houston Jamboree and Louisiana Hayride. LaBeef stood 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) tall.
In the 1950s, as the rockabilly component of rock and roll became evident, LaBeef began recording singles in the genre, initially credited as Sleepy LaBeff or Tommy LaBeff. His first, "I'm Through", was issued on Starday Records in 1957.
In 1964, he moved to Nashville and moved to a more solidly country style, recording singles for Columbia Records. His first genuine hit was 1968's "Every Day", which peaked at No. 73 on the U.S. Billboard Country chart. After moving to Plantation Records in 1969, he scored a second hit in 1971 with "Blackland Farmer", which charted at No. 67. He also played the role of the Swamp Thing in Ron Ormond's 1968 B-movie, The Exotic Ones (also known as The Monster and the Stripper).
LaBeef transferred to Sun Records in the 1970s and continued releasing albums and touring widely; his popularity faded in the United States but rose in Europe. The 1980s saw him sign to Rounder Records, where he released albums into the 1990s.
As a musician he was noted for his extensive repertoire, and for his live performances, at one time undertaking some 300 performances a year. He described the music he performed as "...root music: old-time rock-and-roll, Southern gospel and hand-clapping music, black blues, Hank Williams-style country. We mix it up real good." He toured regularly in Europe, and performed at many music festivals both in Europe and the US. In January 2012, LaBeef traveled to Nashville to record and film a live concert and record in historic RCA Studio B, all produced by noted bassist Dave Pomeroy. A documentary/concert DVD, Sleepy LaBeef Rides Again and soundtrack CD was released on April 22, 2013 by Earwave Records. His last performance was in September 2019.
He had heart bypass surgery in 2003. He died at his home in Siloam Springs, Arkansas on December 26, 2019.
|1957||"I’m Through" / "All Alone"||Starday Records|
|1957||"I’m Through" / "All Alone"||Starday-Mercury Records|
|1957||"All The Time" / "Lonely"||Starday-Mercury Records|
|1958||"Ballad Of A Teenage Queen" / "Eskimo Pie"||Dixie Records|
|1958||"Oh, Oh, I’m Falling In Love Again" / "One Week Later"||Dixie Records|
|1960||"Found Out" / "Can’t Get You Out Of My Mind"||Gulf Records Records|
|1961||"Turn Me Loose" / "Ridin’ Fence"||Crescent Records|
|1962||"Ride On Josephine" / "Walkin’ Slowly"||Wayside Records|
|1963||"Tore Up" / "Lonely"||Wayside Records|
|1963||"Drink Up And Go Home" / "Teardrops On A Rose"||Finn Records|
|1963||"Ride On Josephine" / "Lonely"||Picture Records|
|1965||"You Can’t Catch Me" / "Everybody’s Got To Have Somebody"||Columbia Records|
|1966||"A Man In My Position" / "Drinking Again"||Columbia Records|
|1966||"I’m Too Broke" / "I Feel A Lot More Like I Do Now"||Columbia Records|
|1961||"Ballad Of A Teenage Queen" / "The Ways Of A Woman In Love"||Columbia Records|
|1969||"Blackland Farmer" / ?||Columbia Records|
- 1974: The Bull’s Night Out
- 1976: Western Gold
- 1978: Rockabilly 1977 (Sun Records)
- 1978: Beefy Rockabilly
- 1979: Early, Rare and Rockin’ Sides
- 1979: Downhome Rockabilly (Sun Records)
- 1979: Downhome Rockabilly (Charly Records, UK)
- 1979: Rockabilly Heavyweight (with Dave Travis)
- 1979 "Sleepin' in Spain" (AUVI records, Spain)
- 1979: Sleepy LaBeef and Friends (Ace Records)
- 1979: Sleepy LaBeef and Friends (Ace-Chiswick Records)
- 1980: Early, Rare and Rockin’ Sides (re-release)
- 1980: Downhome Rockabilly (re-release)
- 1981: It Ain’t What You Eat, It's the Way How You Chew It (Rounder Records)
- 1982: Electricity (Rounder Records)
- 1987: Nothin’ But The Truth (Rounder Records) [live]
- 1994: Strange Things Happen
- 1995: The Human Jukebox (Rounder Records)
- 1996: I’ll Never Lay My Guitar Down (Rounder Records)
- 1996: Larger Than Life (6 CD-Box, compilation)
- 1997: A Rockin’ Decade
- 1999: Flyin’ Saucer Rock’n’Roll: The Very Best Of Sleepy LaBeef
- 1999: The Bulls’s Ride Out & Western Gold
- 2000: Tomorrow Never Comes
- 2001: Rockabilly Blues
- 2001: Road Warrior
- 2003: Johnny's Blues: A Tribute To Johnny Cash (Northern Blues)
- 2008: Roots
- 2008: Sleepy Rocks (Bear Family anthology)
- 2012: Rides Again