Hines was born in New York City on February 14, 1946 to Alma Iola (Lawless) and Maurice Robert Hines, a dancer, musician, and actor, and grew up in the Sugar Hill neighborhood of Harlem. Hines began tap dancing when he was two years old, and began dancing semi professionally at age five. After that, he and his older brother Maurice performed together, studying with choreographer Henry LeTang. Gregory and Maurice also studied with veteran tap dancers, such as Howard Sims and The Nicholas Brothers when they performed at the same venues. The two brothers were known as "The Hines Kids", making nightclub appearances, and later as "The Hines Brothers". When their father joined the act as a drummer, the name changed again in 1963 to "Hines, Hines, and Dad".