J.B. Hutto Biography

Joseph Benjamin Hutto, 26 April 1926, Elko, near Blackville, South Carolina, USA, d. 12 June 1983, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Hutto’s family moved to Augusta, Georgia when he was three years old, and he later sang in the Golden Crowns Gospel Singers, before moving to Chicago in 1949. While in Chicago he began to play drums and sing blues with Johnny Ferguson’s Twisters, and during the intervals he taught himself to play Ferguson’s guitar. In 1954 he recorded for the Chance label and these tracks are now considered to be classics of post-war blues. Hutto’s slide guitar demonstrated that he was influenced by Elmore James but had utilized his style to create a unique, personal sound; however, at the time of release, the records met with little success. In 1965 J.B. and his unit the Hawks were the resident band at Turner’s Blue Lounge (he worked there for over 10 years), when they recorded for the influential Vanguard Records series Chicago/The Blues/Today. Following this, Hutto recorded for many collector labels including Testament, Delmark, JSP, Amigo, Wolf, Baron, Black & Blue, and Varrick, with much of the later material, in particular, being licensed to different companies, and appearing on numerous anthologies. Hutto’s music was raunchy, electric slide guitar blues that found great favour among young white blues enthusiasts. During live sets he would walk out into the audience and climb over tables in clubs, while continuing to play; ‘party blues’ was how one critic so aptly described it. Hutto died of cancer in June 1983. He was a major influence on his nephew Lil Ed Williams who continued to perform some of Hutto’s songs.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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