J. B. Hutto (April 26, 1926 - June 12, 1983) was an American blues musician, born Joseph Benjamin Hutto. Hutto was heavily influenced by legendary bluesman Elmore James, and became known for his slide guitar work and declamatory style of singing. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame two years after his death.Hutto was born in Blackville, South Carolina, the fifth of seven children. His family moved to Augusta, Georgia, when Hutto was three years old. His father, Calvin, was a preacher, and Hutto, along with his three brothers and three sisters, formed a gospel group called The Golden Crowns, singing in local churches. Hutto's father died in 1949, and the family relocated to Chicago. Hutto served as a draftee in the Korean War in the early 1950s, driving trucks in combat zones.
In Chicago, Hutto took up the drums and played with Johnny Ferguson and his Twisters. He also tried the piano before settling on the guitar, and playing on the streets with percussionist Eddie 'Porkchop' Hines. After adding Joe Custom on second guitar they started playing club gigs, and harmonica player George Mayweather joined after sitting in with the band. Hutto named his band The Hawks, after the wind that blows in Chicago. A recording session in 1954 resulted in the release of two singles on the Chance label, and a second session later the same year, with the band supplemented by pianist Johnny Jones, produced a third.
Later in the 1950s Hutto became disenchanted with music and gave it up to work as an undertaker after a woman broke his guitar over her husband's head one night. He returned to music in the mid 1960s with a new version of the Hawks featuring Herman Hassell on bass and Frank Kirkland on drums. His recording career resumed with, first, a session for Vanguard Records released on the compilation album Chicago/the Blues/Today! Vol. 1, and then albums for Testament and Delmark. After Hound Dog Taylor died in 1975, Hutto took over his band the Houserockers for a time, and in the late 1970s he moved to Boston and recruited a new band which he called the New Hawks, with whom he recorded further studio albums for the Varrick label.J.B.'s music remains the epitome of intense electrified urban Chicago blues, J.B.'s music and influence range from Big Bill Broonzy to Muddy Waters. Moreover, J.B.'s boogie and rollicking style draw comparisons to Fats Domino and Bo Diddley.
J.B. did not possess the musical polish that other musicians had, nor did he have the business acumen or experience the popularity of some of his contemporaries. J.B., did possess an instantly recognizable, moving and emotional slide guitar and vocal that could bring a crowded bar room to a halt.Hutto returned to Illinois in the early 1980s, where he was diagnosed with cancer. He died in 1983, at the age of 57, in Harvey, Illinois. He was interred at the Restvale Cemetery, Alsip, Cook County, Illinois.
In 1985 the Blues Foundation inducted Hutto into its Hall of Fame. His nephew, Lil' Ed Williams (of Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials) has carried on his legacy, playing and singing in a style very close to his uncle.