Studebaker John is an original who scrupulously lives up to his name: he drives a Studebaker Silver Hawk that he has owned for over 30 years. He prefers a retro approach to music, including vintage guitars, harmonicas, and amps, and he is said to favor only pre-1965 silver quarters for guitar picks. Born John Grimaldi, he grew up in a tough working-class Italian neighborhood in Chicago and frequented the Maxwell Street Market as a young man where he fell in love with the boisterous, amplified sounds of street-corner Chicago blues.
He fashioned an electrifying sound that is inspired mainly by the raw and free-spirited, heavily amplified and dissonant slide guitar playing of Hound Dog Taylor and J.B. Hutto. Studebaker John and Hawks have been continuously performing since the 1970s. Of his 16 recordings (four of them on Blind Pig, three on Avanti), the last three have been for Delmark (That’s the Way You Do, Old School Rockin’ and Kingsville Jukin’), teamed with his old friends, guitarist Rick Kreher (Muddy Waters, Little Arthur Duncan, Rockin’ Johnny) and drummer Steve Cushing (Magic Slim, Smokey Smothers).
Several of Studebaker John’s striking original songs have been featured in major motion pictures and in commercials.