Sweep the Leg Johnny was fronted by alto saxophonist and vocalist Steve Sostak, who formed the band after meeting guitarist Chris Daly while the two attended college at the University of Notre Dame. The two relocated to Chicago after graduating, where they recruited drummer Scott Anna and bass guitarist Matt Alicea.
In 1997, the band released 188.8.131.52 on Divot Records. Following this, Matt Alicea left and was replaced by John Brady, formerly of Spanakorzo and Swing Kids. The band then signed to Southern Records for their second LP Tomorrow We Will Run Faster, released in 1999. Tomorrow... was mastered at Abbey Road Studios in London. Their third album Sto Cazzo (an obscenity in Italian) followed in 2000.
Guitarist Mitch Cheney of Rumah Sakit then joined the band for their final LP Going Down Swingin, released in 2002. The album featured re-recordings of older songs as well as new material.
After the breakup of the band, Steve Sostak and Chris Daly collaborated on a short lived band called Check Engine. Steve Sostak and John Brady also played in the band ZZZZ, which released one album in 2005, Palm Reader. Chris Daly joined a group with members of June of 44 and Hoover called Just A Fire, and currently plays in Haymarket Riot. Mitch Cheney is in a project called GREENESS. Sweep the Leg Johnny also briefly reformed for a benefit gig in Chicago near the end of 2005.