J. B. Hutto

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J. B. Hutto
Hutto in France in December 1982
Hutto in France in December 1982
Background information
Birth nameJoseph Benjamin Hutto
Born(1926-04-26)April 26, 1926
Blackville, South Carolina, United States
DiedJune 12, 1983(1983-06-12) (aged 57)
Harvey, Illinois, United States
Instrument(s)Vocals, guitar, slide guitar
Years active1954–1983

Joseph Benjamin Hutto (April 26, 1926 – June 12, 1983)[1] was an American blues musician. Elmore James influenced him and became known for his slide guitar playing and declamatory style of singing. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame two years after his death.

Life and career[edit]

Joseph Benjamin Hutto was born in Blackville, South Carolina, the fifth of seven children. His family moved to Augusta, Georgia, when he was three years old. His father, Calvin, was a preacher. Joseph and his three brothers and three sisters formed a gospel group, the Golden Crowns, singing in local churches. Calvin Hutto died in 1949, and the family relocated to Chicago.[2]

Hutto served as a draftee in the Korean War in the early 1950s, driving trucks in combat zones.[3]

In Chicago, Hutto took up the drums and played with Johnny Ferguson and his Twisters. He also played the piano before settling on the guitar and performing on the streets with the percussionist Eddie "Porkchop" Hines. They added Joe Custom on the second guitar and started playing club gigs. The harmonica player Earring George Mayweather joined after sitting in with the band. Hutto named his band the Hawks after the wind that blows in Chicago.[4] A recording session in 1954 resulted in the release of two singles by Chance Records. A second session later the same year, with the band supplemented by the pianist Johnny Jones, produced a third single.[5]

Later in the 1950s, Hutto became disenchanted with performing and gave it up after a woman broke his guitar over her husband's head one night in a club where he was playing. For the next eleven years, he worked as a janitor in a funeral home to supplement his income.[6] He returned to the music industry in the mid-1960s with a new version of the Hawks featuring Herman Hassell on bass and Frank Kirkland on drums.[6] His recording career resumed with a session for Vanguard Records, released on the compilation album Chicago/The Blues/Today! Vol. 1, followed by albums for Testament and Delmark.[7] The 1968 Delmark album Hawk Squat, which featured Sunnyland Slim on organ and piano, Lee Jackson on guitar,[8] and Maurice McIntyre on tenor saxophone, is regarded as Hutto's best album up to this point.[9]

After Hound Dog Taylor died in 1975, Hutto took over Taylor's band, the House Rockers, for a time. In the late 1970s, he moved to Boston and recruited a new band, the New Hawks, with whom he recorded studio albums for the Varrick label.[6] His 1983 Varrick album, Slippin' & Slidin', the last of his career and later reissued on CD as Rock with Me Tonight, has been described as "near-perfect".[9]

Death and legacy[edit]

Hutto's grave at Restvale Cemetery

In the early 1980s, Hutto returned to Illinois, where he was diagnosed with carcinoid cancer. He died in 1983, at the age of 57, in Harvey. He was interred at Restvale Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois.[10]

In 1985, the Blues Foundation inducted Hutto into its Hall of Fame.[11] His nephew, Lil' Ed Williams (of Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials), has carried on his legacy, playing and singing in a style close to his uncle's.[12]

A mid-1960s, red Montgomery Ward Res-O-Glas Airline guitar is often referred to as a J. B. Hutto model. Hutto was not a paid endorser, but he made the guitar famous by appearing with it on the cover of his Slidewinder album.[citation needed] Jack White later became well known for using the guitar, and the model is today more closely associated with him, although it retains the Hutto name.[citation needed]



  • "Combination Boogie" / "Now She’s Gone", J. B. and His Hawks (Chance Records; CH-1155), 1954
  • "Lovin' You" / "Pet Cream Man", J. B. and His Hawks (Chance Records; CH-1160), 1954
  • "Dim Lights" / "Things Are So Slow", J. B. Hutto and His Hawks (Chance Records; CH-1165), 1954


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Koda, Cub. "J. B. Hutto: Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved September 7, 2015.
  2. ^ Rowe (1981), p. 114.
  3. ^ van Rijn (2004), p. 97.
  4. ^ Rowe (1981), pp. 114–115.
  5. ^ Ledbitter and Slaven (1987), p. 650.
  6. ^ a b c "J. B. Hutto". Cascadeblues.org. Archived from the original on February 8, 2012. Retrieved December 30, 2011.
  7. ^ Ledbitter and Slaven (1987), pp. 650–651.
  8. ^ "Hawk Squat : Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved March 26, 2021.
  9. ^ a b Russell, T.; Smith, S. (2006). The Penguin Guide to Blues Recordings. London: Penguin Books. p. 299. ISBN 978-0-14-051384-4.
  10. ^ Eagle, Bob L.; LeBlanc, Eric S. (May 1, 2013). Blues: A Regional Experience. ABC-CLIO. p. 128. ISBN 9780313344244 – via Google Books.
  11. ^ "1985 Hall of Fame Inductees". Archived from the original on March 25, 2008. Retrieved May 5, 2008.
  12. ^ Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books. p. 121. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
  13. ^ "J. B. Hutto : Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved March 26, 2021.


  • Leadbitter, Mike, and Neil Slaven (1987). Blues Records 1943 to 1970, a Selective Discography, Volume One, A to K. Record Information Services, London.
  • Rowe, M. (1981). Chicago Blues: The City and the Music. Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0306801457.
  • van Rijn, G. (2004). Truman and Eisenhower Blues: African-American Blues and Gospel Songs, 1945–1960. Continuum. ISBN 978-0826456571.