Born and raised in Buffalo, singer/songwriter Willie Nile came from a musical family -- his grandfather was a vaudeville pianist who played with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson and Eddie Cantor, and his uncles played boogie-woogie. Nile's older brothers, meanwhile, brought home the music of Elvis Presley, the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly and Fats Domino, all of whom he heard from the time he was three or four years old. Nile himself began playing piano at age eight and took classical music lessons until he was a teenager, when he taught himself his first rock & roll song. He soon began to compose short songs and continued the habit into his college years, when during the summers he made trips into New York City to frequent hootenanny clubs like Folk City and the Gaslight. After graduation, Nile took an apartment in the heart of Greenwich Village; however, during his first winter in New York, he contracted pneumonia, which put him out of commission for about a year, although he continued writing songs while recuperating. After regaining his health, he began hanging out at clubs like CBGB's, where he would see bands like Patti Smith, Television, the Ramones and Talking Heads.