LaBeef stands 6' 7" tall and was given the nickname "Sleepy" from the appearance of his eyes. Born in Arkansas, he was raised on a melon farm and moved to Houston when he was 18. There, he sang gospel music on local radio and put together a bar band to play venues as well as radio programs such as the Houston Jamboree and Louisiana Hayride.
In the 1950s, as the rockabilly component of rock-n-roll became evident, LaBeef began recording singles in the genre; his first, "I'm Through", was issued on Starday Records in 1957. In 1964, he moved to Nashville and moved to a more solidly country style, recording singles for Columbia Records. His first genuine hit was 1968's "Every Day", which peaked at No. 73 on the U.S. Billboard Country charts. After moving to Plantation Records in 1969, he scored a second hit in 1971 with "Blackland Farmer", which charted at No. 67. Around this time LaBeef also starred in the horror movieThe Exotic Ones. LaBeef transferred to Sun Records in the 1970s and continued releasing albums and touring widely; his popularity flagged in America but rose in Europe. The 1980s saw him sign to Rounder Records, where he released albums into the 1990s. In January 2012, LaBeef traveled to Nashville to record a film a live concert and record in historic RCA Studio B, all produced by noted bassist Dave Pomeroy. A documentary/concert DVD,Sleepy LaBeef Rides Again and soundtrack CD was released on April 22, 2013 by Earwave Records.