Born into a musical family in Schenectady, New York, Gregg August was drawn to the drums at an early age, but was persuaded by his father to first learn the piano. His aunt, noted jazz pianist, Peg Delaney was his first teacher. Her husband Bill played upright bass and Gregg's father, Ed, also played the piano professionally. The very first jam sessions August ever experienced were at family functions. When he was ten, Gregg was finally allowed to study drums. He then picked up the electric bass in high school because the school band was lacking a bass player.
At SUNY Albany, August studied percussion with Richard Albagli, while also beginning the double bass. After two years he transferred to the Eastman School of Music, where he majored in classical performance and received extensive training in jazz forms with Bill Dobbins and studied composition/ arranging with Rayburn Wright. After earning his Bachelors degree at Eastman, he went on to receive a Masters from Juilliard. It was at this time, August got his first taste of playing the New York City jazz sceneÜinterrupted only when he won a principal bass position in La Orquesta Ciutat de Barcelona, Spain. After two seasons in Barcelona, he moved to Paris to freelance as a jazz musician, playing with notables such as Jean Toussaint among others.