FRED RANDOLPH was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. Though he was exposed to Hawaiian music early through ukelele lessons, his main interest as a child was surfing. In high school he took up the guitar, studying with local jazz guitarist Bill Valdez, and began playing at high school dances while developing a passion for jazz as a sideline.
Moving to San Diego, he studied jazz guitar with Steve O'Connor and composition with Bernard Rands at U.C.S.D., followed by a move to Berkeley where he studied conducting with Michael Senturia at U.C.B. He also at this time took up the saxophone and later the trumpet, studying with Jay Rizzetto at Hayward State University