Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Sleepy LaBeef Still Rides!

* Loading oil field supplies near Smackover, Arkansas *
Arkansas state archives, circa 1920's

How many of you have been to Smackover, Arkansas?  Don't all jump up at once, lol!  Well, I haven't been there either!  Looks like it may have been a pretty prosperous town back in the day.  This town's dramatic oil discovery in the 1920's led the nation's oil output. Up to this time, Smackover's economy depended primarily on cotton and the timber industry.

So, you're wondering how this city got its name?  Well, it seems as though early on, French trappers settled here, just a couple of hours from Little Rock along the Ouachita River.  Legend has it that the oil blowing "smack over the derrick", or a pioneer jumping "smack over the creek", could be the origin of Smackover's name.  Another legend claims that the name came from the French term, "Chemin Couvert", or the "Covered Way".

Every year, Smackover hosts an Oil Town Festival, so, if any of you get a hankerin' to make your way there June 15-17th, be sure to stop in and enjoy the eats, car show and free concerts.  I wasn't able to find out who will be performing at the concerts this year.

Could it be this guy?

  Sleepy LaBeef

Now here's a guy who was actually born in Smackover, Arkansas, and is still around to talk about it.  Let me introduce Mr. Thomas Paulsley LaBeff, nicknamed "Sleepy" as a youngster because of his droopy eyes!  He is the youngest of 10 children, born in June of 1935, just six months younger than Elvis.  At the age of 81, and, standing about 6'5", he is still 'wowing' audiences with his 'beefy' voice.
Thus, another name change to "LaBeef"!

* Sleepy LaBeef

Well, folks, they say that young Sleepy quit school at the age of 14, sold his .22 rifle, and bought a guitar.  He mostly played at the church during that time, and worked at various jobs as a grocery clerk, truck driver, lumberjack, and, even a swamp monster in a horror movie!  Yikes!  At 18, Sleepy took a highway job, building roads in Houston and left Smackover.  There, he jumped into the frying pan, so to speak, (keeping his highway job), and started singing gospel on the radio and playing in clubs for $8 or $9 a night.

* Sleepy LaBeef * Yahoo images
Not a bad lookin' guy, eh?

Sleepy performs a lot of medleys in his concerts featuring various artists.  He cruises through Merle Haggard tunes, dances a waltz with Ernest Tubb, and sails into a Jimmy Reed blues number.  Having co-written very few songs himself, Sleepy explains, "Why should I write songs when there's already so many good ones?"  He covers songs about things he has witnessed, even if he hasn't lived them himself.  Sleepy and his band might 'roar' through 70-72 songs by night's end.  LaBeef can rock through Chuck Berry and even Duane Eddy-without planning it first.

* Sleepy sits with "Time Jumpers", featuring Vince Gill

Just to name a few Sleepy Songs:
"Rock and Roll Ruby"
"Strange Things Happening"
"Mistery Train"
"Every Day"
"Ain't Got No Home"

In 1964, Sleepy was invited to Nashville by Don Law, to record for Columbia records.  But after 6 years of no-hits, Sleepy signed with Sun Records.  A couple of years later, Sleepy was with Rounder records,

 Here's Sleepy now with a powerful cut of  "Turn Me Loose" on the Rounder label!

That was a Rockabilly special, if I ever heard one...don't you agree?  Man, what a fast moving song, with fabulous guitar work and piano!  Sleepy could really pump out those beefy tunes!


You know, Sleepy said, "You're singing about life.  If I sing a drinking or cheating song, it's not because I like the lifestyle, and, I'm not judging these people.  I'm just an interpreter sending the message that you cannot drink your problems away, because it's still there when you sober up."

* Sleepy LaBeef performing in Memphis, Tennessee
 August 2015 * International Rockabilly Festival
* Yahoo Images

Sleepy is well known as a first generation rocker.  None of it's planned.  He always wants the freedom to play the crowd and change direction whenever the spirit moves him.   Below is one of the medleys Mr. LaBeef has performed live.

I LOVE this guy!  What do you think?  He can really pump that guitar.  Well, as I said earlier, he is a self-taught guitarist.  At the at of 14 he was playing in the church, and, he learned by watching other musicians play.  This is a real treat!  I would really like to see Sleepy in concert!

Ok!  Time for my thanks to:
Yahoo Images
* Please accept apologies if I left anyone out

Thank you so much for coming by.  Now that we're in the midst of our Spring weather (unless, of course, your country is in its winter season), I hope you all are experiencing the grandest weather you could possibly have!  Actually, here in the Lone Star state, we're running the air conditioner one day, and the furnace the next!

Please step in and say hello if you get the chance.  I always appreciate your comments and hellos!  I know the Easter holiday is approaching within just days, so, please be safe if you're on the road!

Happy Easter, with love!  ♥

"We've got so many songs to do, so we'll keep 'em short, get more of 'em in."
~Sleepy LaBeef


  1. Hi, Suzanne!

    This is my favorite post of the whole year!

    First of all I never visited or even heard of Smackover, Arkansas, but I enjoyed the history lesson. In Pennsylvania we used to use the slang expression "right smack dab" which might somehow be related to the origin of the town's name.

    I love Sleepy LaBeef's deep, rich, robust voice and his full speed ahead rockabilly style. Fats Domino's "My Girl Josephine," the title changed to "Hello Josephine" by Sleepy and other cover artists including Johnny Rivers who did a fine go-go style rendition, is one of my favorite songs. I was really wowed, however, by the other song you posted, the one you raved about, "Turn Me Loose." That style might be the subgenre called Psychobilly, I'm not sure, but I sure do love his jumpin' performance!

    What I liked most about this post was when you caught my attention by revealing that Sleepy LaBeef once played a monster in a horror movie. Being a huge horror movie fan, I just had to report to IMDB and investigate. Turns out Sleepy played The Swamp Thing in the sleazy 1968 sexploitation horror flick The Exotic Ones aka The Monster and the Stripper. I watched the trailer on YouTube and it was a hoot. I never saw the ultra low budget movie, but it was most likely inspired by Russ Meyer's successful string of "nudie-cutie" films of the 60s. I then found one of Sleepy's songs which the uploader edited onto a scene from the movie in which the swamp monster tears off a man's arm and beats him to death with it:

    That's my kind of film and this is my kind of music. Thank you very much for the entertainment, dear friend Suzanne! (No, we are not running the furnace here... only the A/C! :) I wish you and Scootie and your whole family a very happy Easter!

    1. Well, Shady...I thought of you as I mentioned that Sleepy had been a monster. I knew the name, but didn't dive further as I thought it may be 'sleazy'. But, I promise I will check it out! EW!!!

      I was truly taken aback when I started listening to Sleepy's songs-no wonder he didn't write much...he didn't have to. He's a great cover artist. I'm with you, I like "My Girl Josephine", and Johnny Rivers too, does great cover work. I already had one of Sleepy's songs picked out until I heard "Turn Me Loose", then I was in love! If I ever hear that Sleepy is doing a concert around my neck of the woods, I'll do whatever I can to get there!

      I'm so honored that you named this post as your favorite this year! That's the best comment ever! And how about that IMDB! I always have good luck when looking up a movie cast on that site.

      Thank you for coming by Shady. Glad to know you enjoyed my rockabilly pick. The more I read about Sleepy, the more I found to be so interesting about him! Thank you for your gracious comments. Have a very happy (not too much sugar) Easter! ♫

  2. Hi there Suzanne, I'd never heard of Sleepy but he can really play that guitar... self taught - wow! I like his voice too and can understand his popularity! Thanks for including the video.
    I hope you're keeping well and it was lovely to read of that beaut Easter egg hunt with your dear Shawn. Hugs :D)xx

    1. Isn't he really great, Sue? I didn't know who he was either, but, I'm glad I found him. When I started playing some of his videos, I was hooked! I'm hoping to get to see him some day if he gets around to my neck of the woods. I'm glad you enjoyed this beefy-voiced gentleman too! Thank you so much for coming by to meet up with Sleepy and me! Our Easter egg hunt went very well. Have a great day, hugs to you and Henny Penny! ♥

  3. Hello Suzanne, I have never heard of Sleepy. It is an interesting name for this musician. I think it is awesome he is a self-taught guitarist. I have never been to Arkansas. Maybe someday if I ever get to do cross country trip. Thanks for sharing the videos. Have a happy day and week ahead!

  4. Hi Eileen. I think it's amazing that Sleepy is still touring around and sharing his great talent with everyone. I didn't know about him either...but I'm glad I stumbled across his story and listened to him sing! I hope to get to see him in concert one day. Thank you for stopping in to check this artist out, and for leaving your comments. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Have a very nice day!