Geoff Tate was born on January 14, 1959, at Stuttgart Army Hospital in Stuttgart, Germany. When he was a toddler, his family moved to Tacoma, Washington, and they have lived there ever since. His father was a member of the United States Diplomatic Corps. His mother, Ella, is the author of several children's stories, as well as an accomplished artist. "My mother wanted to give me art lessons, so I took some classes from her and took them in school," he told an interviewer at Hit Parader. "I had no talent at it, so I had to find something else to do."
In high school, Geoff was an "A" student, and played football. He had considered playing football professionally, until he suffered a knee injury. He was also on the swim team, and swam on the NCAA circuit. Outside of school, he was a member of Washington State's Search and Rescue Team, a group that assists in the recovery of downed airplanes and lost people in the Coast Range area of the Rocky Mountains, near Tacoma.
Geoff Tate has always shown an interest in music. When he was two and a half years old, he would sit in front of his TV, hands behind his back, and watch symphonies from beginning to end. His family were always singing around the house. He has commented that his mother had a "very nice" singing voice, and his aunt, an opera singer, possesses tremendous vocal ability. Throughout his life, Geoff tried a variety of instruments before deciding to concentrate on his voice. In his school band, he played the trumpet. He learned to play keyboards, playing them in "The Warning". He also plays guitar. His favorite instrument to play, however, is the saxophone.
Geoff played with a number of bands before joining Queensrÿche. In high school, he played in a garage band called Tyrant, with Adam Bomb on guitar. After college, he played with Myth, featuring Kelly Gray on guitar. He then played with a quintet known as The Mob, which quintet later renamed themselves Queensrÿche.
Geoff is married. His wife's name is Susan, and he has four daughters.