Veteran rockabilly musician Sleepy LaBeef passes away

The performer was 84.

Sleepy LaBeef.

Image: Jack Vartoogian / Getty

Sleepy LaBeef, a rockabilly performer whose career spanned more than 60 years, died on 26 December at the age of 84.

The singer’s family confirmed his passing on Facebook. “He died at home, in his own bed, surrounded by his family who loved him, and whom he clearly loved,” the post read. No cause of death was given.

LaBeef was born Thomas Paulsley LaBeff and raised in Smackover, Arkansas but earned his nickname “Sleepy” due to his lazy eye. Over the years, LaBeef made a career in rockabilly and country music with songs like 1957’s I’m Through and 1968’s Every Day. His most recent album was 2008’s Roots, a stripped-down collection of original songs that chronicle the growth and evolution of LaBeef’s songwriting.

LaBeef was also notably cast as the Swamp Thing in Roy Ormond’s 1968 B-movie The Exotic Ones due to his towering stature. The musician made another appearance in his bassist Dave Pomeroy’s documentary/concept film Sleepy LaBeef Rides Again (2013), which captured the then-76-year-old’s performance at the Douglas Corner Cafe in Nashville, Tennessee. His backing band included guitarist Kenny Vaughn, keyboardist Gene Dunlap, drummer Rick Lonow and Pomeroy on bass. 

Watch LaBeef’s Nashville performance from the film below:

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