J.B. Hutto was born on 26/04/1926 in Blackville, South Carolina. His full birth name was Joseph Benjamin Hutto. When he was three he and his family moved to Augusta, Georgia. His father was a preacher and Joseph and his three brothers and three sisters formed a gospel group called the Golden Crowns. They would sing in local churches.
In 1949, Joseph's father Calvin Hutto died and the family moved to Chicago.
During the Korean War in the early 1950s, Hutto served as a draftee driving trucks in combat zones.
Back in Chicago, Hutto played the drums with Johnny Ferguson and his Twisters. He would also try the piano before he settled on playing the guitar. He played the guitar on the streets with percussionist Eddie "Porkchop" Hines. Joe Custom joined them on guitar and they started to play in clubs. George Mayweather sat in with the band before joining them on harmonica. Hutto named the band the Hawks, after the wind that blows in Chicago.
In 1954 they recorded two singles for Chance Records. In a second session later that year they had pianist Johnny Jones join them to record their third single.
In the late 1950s, Hutto was becoming disenchanted with music. The final straw came when a woman broke his guitar over her husband's head when he played a club one night. He quit music and worked as a janitor at a funeral home for the next 11 years.
In the mid-1960s, he formed a new version of the Hawks with Herman Hassell on bass and Frank Kirkland on drums. He started to record again with a session for Vanguard Records. This was followed by albums for Testament and Delmark.
In 1968 he released the album "Hawk Squat!" for Delmark, featuring Sunnyland Slim on organ/piano and Maurice McIntyre on tenor saxophone.
In 1975, Hound Dog Taylor passed away and Hutto took over his band the HouseRockers.
In the late 1970s, he moved to form a new band the New Hawks. With them he recorded albums for the Varrick label.
In 1983 he released his last album called "Slippin' & Slidin'". Later that year he died in Harvey, Illinois.
In 1985 he was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame.