Stephen Ray Perry was born in Hanford, California, to Portuguese parents. He is an only child. Perry grew up interested in music, as his father, Raymond Perry (Pereira), was a vocalist and co-owner of radio station KNGS. Perry's parents ended their relationship when he was eight years of age, and he and his mother then moved to his grandparents' farm. In a September 2018 interview, Perry said, "Things happened to me as a child that I still can't talk about – nothing to do with my parents, but things did happen. It happened to a lot of kids, as I find out. . . [There] was nowhere to talk it out, so I got to sing it out instead. " On Perry's 12th birthday, his mother, Mary Quaresma, presented her son with a gold eighth note pendant; Perry wears the pendant for good luck. At age 12, Perry heard Sam Cooke's song "Cupid" on his mother's car radio, and it inspired him to become a singer.