Mike Rowe was born in Baltimore, Maryland to parents John and Peggy Rowe. Rowe has said in commercials for Dirty Jobs that the show is a tribute to his father and grandfather. Rowe became an Eagle Scout on January 2, 1979 in Troop 16 in Baltimore. During his service project for Eagle Scout at the Maryland School for the Blind, he read aloud to students, and he cites this as one of the reasons he became interested in narrating and writing On being an Eagle Scout he said The Eagle Award is not really meant for people who need to be dragged across the finish line. It’s meant for a select few In June 2012 Rowe was awarded the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award by the Boy Scouts of America.
Mike Rowe attended Kenwood Presbyterian Church in Baltimore when he was younger; his parents still regularly attend. Rowe attended Overlea High School, where he excelled in both theater and singing under the tutelage of choir director Freddie King, whom Rowe credits for first interesting him in performing. An early stutterer, Rowe was able to overcome the handicap while in school. After graduation from high school, he attended Essex Community College, and briefly sang with the Chorus of the Chesapeake, which at the time was directed by King. He later graduated from Towson University with a degree in Communication Studies.
Rowe sang professionally with the Baltimore Opera. He says about this job:
“I joined the opera to get my union card and meet girls. I was a saloon singer, so I went down to the Baltimore Opera and learned an aria and auditioned. I figured I’d do one show and quit. But the girls were everywhere and the truth is, the music was really decent”