Progressive and contemporary jazz piano virtuoso Laurence Hobgood was born on December 23, 1949, in Salisbury, NC, where his father headed the theater department at Catawba College. The family relocated several times during Hobgood's childhood, following his father's professional career. They ultimately landed in Dallas, TX, where his father secured a job and eventually chaired the theater program at Southern Methodist University. A young Hobgood began formal classical piano studies at age six in Dallas, performing his own versions of Bach and Chopin; at age 12 was introduced to blues music through his family's church; and spent three years playing the Fender Rhodes electric piano with a country group called the Kingsmen. Several years later, after moving to Illinois, he began formal training in jazz, first at Urbana High School and then at the University of Illinois/Champaign-Urbana, yet another place where his father was employed. Hobgood was featured for three years in their premier jazz ensemble led by John Garvey, while his classical studies continued with Ian Hobson.