Roy Gaines was born August 12, 1937 in Waskom, Texas. His family moved to Houston when he was six. He is the brother of Grady Gaines, once saxophone player in Little Richard's backup band The Upsetters. At an early age Gaines first began playing piano in the style of Nat King Cole. He became friendly with other local musicians such as Clarence Hollimon and Johnny Copeland. In his teens he switched to the guitar and became an admirer of T-Bone Walker, another Texan.