Born May 4, 1944 in Norwood, MA, John was the youngest of six siblings. He began playing guitar at age 10 and in high school formed a band with his school mates, Johnny & The Twisters. John attended Suffolk University and in 1972 graduated from Harvard University with a B.A., and pursued graduate studies in Paleontology while a research assistant at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology. In Boston and Cambridge, he played the late 1960s-early 1970s music scene, accompanying musicians Bonnie Raitt and Graham Parsons at one time, and formed the popular original rock/blues band Street Choir that was featured in Vogue Magazine as “the Boston sound.”
John settled in Newport around 1981 where he trained and worked locally as a senior applications analyst at Unisys, IBM, and Aquidneck Management, and later worked as a computer systems consultant for local businesses. A talented singer/songwriter/guitarist, John played solo and with local musicians in bands at the Blue Pelican, Billy Goode’s, Newport Blues Cafe, and as a duo at coffeehouses. He founded the original John Hillman Band with folk/blues rock musicians and the roots/rock quintet Another Roadside Attraction, performing at NIMFest, Broadway Street Fair, and at many other gigs. John made numerous CD recordings of his original songs and covers. He was a gentle, thoughtful person who was an avid mentor inspiring musicians to go further, and charmed listeners with his own unique musical style.
John died after a 6-month illness on Thursday, Oct. 27 with family by his side. He is survived by his two children, Dylan and Jessica, and his sister Dorothy, plus extended family.
A Musical Gathering in his honor will be held Saturday, Nov. 12 at the Newport Elks Club, Pelham Street, for family and by invitation from 12-3:00 pm, with musicians and visitors welcome from 3:00-5:30 pm.