Cory McAbee was born in Northern California as the youngest of three children. His father was an auto mechanic and his mother was a preschool teacher. McAbee spent his summers living with his grandparents in the Nevada desert. McAbee's formal education ended with high school. At the age of twenty, Cory McAbee met future collaborator Bobby Lurie. Lurie and a mutual friend were planning to form a band. McAbee spent the next two weeks writing songs for the band, they performed at clubs throughout California for eleven months until Bobby Lurie broke up the group. McAbee taught himself how to play the autoharp and began writing new songs. For the next twelve years, McAbee worked as the head of security in bars, nightclubs and strip joints throughout San Francisco. McAbee and Lurie became reacquainted in 1989 and formed the musical group, The Billy Nayer Show. In 1990 McAbee completed the hand painted stills for his first animated short, Billy Nayer. This animated short premiered in its final form at the 1992 Sundance Film Festival. Over the next couple of years, McAbee wrote and directed short films including The Ketchup and Mustard Man and The Man on the Moon. As a means of self-distribution, McAbee and Lurie developed live musical performances that incorporated their short films, the show was called The Billy Nayer Chronicles. It was presented at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival as the festival's first multi-media event. After a period of living without a home for three years, McAbee compiled ideas for what would be his first feature film musical, The American Astronaut. In 2007 he wrote Stingray Sam with the intention of self-distribution on multiple platforms. Stingray Sam premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. In 2012 he co-founded Captain Ahab's Motorcycle Club, an international community of musicians and artists who collaborate and participate using the internet. Members remix Cory's songs and upload them. Members design chapter badges for their communities. A crowd-sourced film in currently in pre-production.