Cult Rockabilly Star Sleepy LaBeef Dead at 84

Music

Sleepy LaBeef, a beloved rockabilly veteran active since the 1950s, died yesterday (December 26) at the age of 84, Rolling Stone reports. “He died at home, in his own bed, surrounded by his family who loved him, and whom he dearly loved,” his family said in a Facebook post. “He lived a full and vibrant life, filled with the excitement of much travel and experience, the contentment that came from being able to spend his life doing what he loved best, and the fulfilling love of his wife, children, and grandchildren around him.” No cause of death was given.

Born Thomas Paulsley LaBeff, in Arkansas, Sleepy LaBeef broke out in the late ’50s and released a run of singles bridging roots styles, sometimes as Sleepy LaBeff. He had small hits on labels including Mercury, Columbia and, in the ’70s, Sun, but was primarily known for his cantankerous live shows. By the second half of his career, LaBeef was a fixture of roots festivals in the States and Europe, having enhanced his cult with a role as the Swamp Thing in the 1968 B-movie The Exotic Ones. In 2013, he was immortalized in the documentary/concert film Sleepy LaBeef Rides Again.

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