Before launching a solo career as the protégé of Jack Johnson, Donavon Frankenreiter began his professional life as a surfer. Born in Southern California on December 10, 1972, he landed a sponsorship with Billabong as a young teenager and moved to Hawaii when he was 14. There, he rented a home from the parents of Jack Johnson, a fellow surfer with an untapped musical talent. The two became fast friends, learning guitar together and hanging out between trips to the beach. Music was always a hobby for Frankenreiter, who began playing guitar in a local rock band called Sunchild during his late teens, but it wasn't until 2002 that he grew confident enough to try a solo career. Meanwhile, Johnson's musical career had taken a meteoric leap, and he was starting his own Brushfire Records label. Frankenreiter reached out to his old friend, who released Frankenreiter's self-titled debut in May 2004. Johnson also made a guest appearance on the record, along with G. Love and Koool G Murder of the Eels.