Enzo Jannacci was born in Milan on 3 June 1935. On his father's side his family is from Apulia in the far south: his grandfather, also called Vincenzo, moved to Milan from Bari just before the onset of the First World War. His mother's side of the family is from Lombardy.
His father was an aeronautical official and worked at Forlanini airport (now more commonly known as Linate). During the Second World War he took part in the Italian resistance movement, in particular during the defense of Milanese aviation at Piazza Novelli, an act which later inspired songs such as Sei minuti all'alba ("Six Minutes to Dawn").
After finishing high school at the Liceo Scientifico Leonardo da Vinci, Jannacci graduated in harmony, composition and conducting at the Milan Conservatory. Later in 1967 he graduated with a degree in medicine from the University of Milan. He left Italy for South Africa and United States to specialise in cardiac surgery, where he joined the team of Christiaan Barnard, the famous surgeon. On 23 November 1967 he married Giuliana Orefice, who gave birth to Paolo, their only child, five years later. Today Paolo is a musician and conductor.