Frederick Jay Rubin was born in Long Beach, New York and grew up in Lido Beach, New York. His father, Michael (Mickey) was a shoe wholesaler and his mother, Linda, a housewife. He is of Jewish descent. While a student at Long Beach High School he befriended the school's audiovisual department director Steve Freeman who gave him a few lessons in guitar playing and songwriting. He then played in a band with childhood friends Marc Greenhut, Carlos Ferreiro, and Joey Ferrante doing garage and school shows for town friends until Steve, an AV teacher, helped him create a punk band called The Pricks. Their biggest claim to fame was being thrown off the stage at CBGB after two songs for brawling with the heckling audience who were in fact friends of the band instructed to instigate a confrontation so as to get the show shut down and create a buzz. Somewhat anecdotally, this story was confirmed in an interview with music journalist Zane Lowe. Although he had no authority in New York City, Rubin's father traveled from Nassau County, New York, to Manhattan wearing his Long Beach auxiliary police uniform as he attempted to "shut down" the show.