Sleepy LaBeef dies at age 84

In Memory of a Rock Star

A Rock and Roll & Rockabilly LEGEND

Sleepy LaBeef, a Rockabilly LEGEND, died at age 84. He was one of the mainstreams in rock and roll and continued to play throughout his entire life. Our site will be dedicated to this man, and we appreciate everything he has done for music!

The NY Times did a great post about Sleepy LaBeef’s legacy. It noted that, although he never had a huge rock and roll hit, he had an amazing following and fan base. Sleepy was one of those musicians that didn’t let old age stop him from playing what he loved the most – rock and roll!

Rock and Roll isn’t the only thing Mr. LaBeef could play. He knew over 6,500 songs ranging from rock, country, gospel, jazz and blues. One of the best guitar players you would have ever heard, if you saw him perform live. Incredible human being, naturally gifted, a hard worker and a musician who cared.


This is an image of Sleepy LaBeef


One of the most impressive American rockstars! Sleepy LaBeef is an American rockabilly musician, if you haven’t known by now!

What is a Rockabilly Musician?

Rockabilly is one of the most earliest styles of rock. It dates all the way back to the 1950’s in the United States and was most popular down in the South. The music blends the sound of western country with rhythm and blues. If you are still confused about both of those styles, when you mix them together (beautifully of course) you get what is now referred to as old classic rock and roll.

Sleepy LaBeef’s Bio

For half a century, Sleepy LaBeef has lived his life on stages, in honky-tonks, and on the road. He has released records in six different decades and has had chart success as far back as the sixties and as recently as the year 2000. Sleepy LaBeef has shared bills with practically every great in music history: Elvis Presley, George Jones, Roy Orbison, Wanda Jackson, Carl Perkins, has numbered in his band over five hundred people (including the likes of Doug Kershaw, Kenny Rogers, Glen Campbell, D.J. Fontana, and Grady Martin), and has been an admitted influence to such a variety of people as Brian Setzer, Bruce Springsteen, and the Beatles.

Sleepy LaBeef, who has been dubbed the Bull, the Road Warrior, and the Human Jukebox, has been laying down a seemingly endless variety of roots music since 1953, when he moved to Texas from his home state of Arkansas. Here, Sleepy began to gain notoriety as a singer while performing at the Magnolia Gardens, the Houston Jamboree, the Louisiana Hayride, and scores of bars, family shows, and spots on both radio and television.

Managed by Hal Harris (now, remembered most for his song, “Jitterbop Baby”), Sleepy released a dozen rockabilly singles in the fifties, recording at Pappy Daily’s famous Gold Star Studios. In 1964, LaBeef was signed with Columbia, where he had his first chart success, with “Every Day”, in 1968. At the end of the decade, he signed with Shelby Singleton’s Plantation label and earned a top twenty hit with “Blackland Farmer.” He recorded from the early seventies till 1979 on Sun, when he switched to Rounder, releasing several critically successful albums until signing with MC records and charting, once again, with “Detour” in 2000.

As significant as his recording career has been, it is the live Sleepy LaBeef that is important. Today, at 67, Sleepy still performs two hundred shows a year and plays with such energy that people a third of his age are annihilated when they attempt to keep up with him.

Sleepy LaBeef’s live sets are truly indescribable. One must see them to understand that he is doing nothing less than giving up his body to the spirit of the music and testifying. In this day of studio effects and ever-changing technology, many record buyers wonder why a live show even matters. Sleepy LaBeef is the answer.

Mr. LaBeef is as modest and spiritually grounded as he is ablaze, arguably the world‘s greatest living roots legend, and he seems unaware that he is the inspiration to three generations of roots music lovers.

“Ah, I’m just out there having fun,” he says, in his deep, humble, Arkansas drawl.

So speaks the giant in the black Stetson hat. The Bull. The Road Warrior. The Human Jukebox. Sleepy LaBeef.

— John Kite

What Record Label Brands Supported Sleepy LaBeef?

There were a few record labels that took on LaBeef because of his up and coming rock star status. Here are the list of record labels that supported him:

  • Starday Records
  • Starday-Mercury Records
  • Dixie Records
  • Gulf Records Records
  • Crescent Records
  • Wayside Records
  • Finn Records
  • Picture Records
  • Columbia Records

Here’s Sleepy LaBeef performing LIVE in Las Vegas 2016: