Big, deep-voiced guitar-playing Sleepy LaBeef (born Thomas LaBeff), hailing from Smackover, Arkansas, got his nickname as a boy due to his slightly droopy eyelids. He’s been playing rockabilly for five decades (beginning with 1957’s “I’m Through”), working on a number of labels including Starday, Columbia, Sun, and Rounder. Among the many legends that follow him, he has stated that three of them are true: He has a “6,000 plus or minus catalogue of songs” in his head (earning him the nickname “The Human Jukebox”); he got his first guitar at age 14 when he traded his hunting rifle to his brother-in-law for it; and he recorded 36 songs in one day around 1976 for Sun Records. The reason: “We just had a good band and enjoyed playing.” He has lived in New Hampshire for many years.
(by Ed Symkus)
Published on December 28, 2012