Frank Goad Clement was born on June 2, 1920 in Dickson, Tennessee, United States. He was the son of Robert Samuel Clement, a lawyer, and Maybelle Goad. Reared in hard times in a deeply religious fundamentalist Christian household, Clement became a political populist and a devout "Bible toter" at an early age. He also developed a special talent for old-style oratory with the help of his father's half-sister, Dockie Shipp Weems. While other schoolboys dreamed of success in sports or country music, Clement's ambition was to become governor of Tennessee.