Randall was born around 1934 at Middleton Pond on Tempe Downs Station in the Central Desert region of the Northern Territory. His mother, Tanguawa, was a maid at the station and his father, Bill Liddle, was the owner of the station.
At about the age of seven, Randall was taken away from his mother and family under government policy which forcibly removed thousands of half-caste (half-Aboriginal) children from their families. This policy came to be known as the "Stolen Generation." Randall was taken to The Bungalow, an institution for half-caste children in Alice Springs, Northern Territory, then later was moved to a reservation on Croker Island in Arnhem Land, thousands of kilometres away from his home and family. Randall was given a new identity and birth date.
Randall was kept in government institutions until he was twenty when he, with new wife and baby, was banished for questioning white authorities. He moved to Darwin and later to Adelaide, South Australia, working, studying, establishing a career as an Aboriginal cultural educator, and looking for his family and country of belonging.
Randall was affectionately known as "Uncle Bob" or "Tjilpi" (old man or uncle). He established Croker Island Night and several organisations in Darwin including the RRT Pony Club, Boxing Club, Folk Club, the Aboriginal Development Foundation. He worked as a counsellor through the Methodist Uniting Church.
In 1970, Randall helped establish the Adelaide Community College for Aboriginal people and lectured at the college on Aboriginal culture. He served as the Director of the Northern Territory Legal Aid Service in Alice Springs, performed on stage in Child of the Night and Dream of Reconciliation, appeared in the documentary films Mixed Up Man and Secret Country by John Pilger, had roles in the movies Picnic at Hanging Rock and The Last Wave, and established Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Centres at Australian National University, University of Canberra, and University of Wollongong.
Randall led a country music band that serviced regional Aboriginal communities.
In the early 1970s, Randall earned widespread recognition for his song, "My Brown Skin Baby, They Take 'Im Away," which focused national and international attention on the issues of the Stolen Generation and opened the door for Indigenous story songwriters throughout Australia. It led to the filming of a documentary by the same name that won the Bronze Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. His lifelong efforts to retain Aboriginal culture and restore equal rights for all living were recognised in 1999 when he was named NAIDOC's "Person of the Year".
In 2004, he was inducted into the NT Indigenous Music Hall of Fame, recognising the historical significance of his classic story songs.
After many years of heart-wrenching searches, he found his roots and returned to his mother's country in Mutitjulu.
His story was recorded in 2002 by the National Library of Australia for the Bringing Them Home oral history project and appeared in the associated publication Many Voices: Reflections on Experiences of Indigenous Child Separation. Randall authored four books, including his autobiography, Songman, and three books for children: Tracker Tjuginji, Stories From Country, and Nyuntu Ninti. He contributed his personal story of being stolen to the anthology, Stories of Belonging: Finding Where Your True Self Lives, edited by Kelly Wendorf, published in 2009.
Randall died in Mutitjulu, Northern Territory, on 12 May 2015, aged approximately 81.
In 2006, he co-produced and narrated the documentary, Kanyini, with Melanie Hogan, which was voted "best documentary" at the London Australian Film Festival 2007, winner of the “Inside Film Independent Spirit Award”, and winner of the Discovery Channel "Best Documentary Award" in 2006. In 2013 he appeared and performed in Mbantua Festival's outdoor performance, Bungalow Song. In 2014 he appeared in John Pilger's film, Utopia and released two documentary films with Andrew Harvey, Songman and Living Kanyini.Ballads by Bob Randall (1983) – CAAMA
Bob Randall (1984) – Imparja
Desert Songs 1 (1982) – CAAMA
First Australians: Songs by Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders (1978) – Aboriginal Artists Agency
Rebel Voices From Black Australia (1990) – Imparja
Ted Egan Presents the Aboriginals (1987) – EMI
Randall, Bob (2003). Songman: the story of an Aboriginal elder of Uluru. ABC Books for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. ISBN 0-7333-1262-4.
Randall, Bob; Kunyi June-Anne McInerney (2003). Tracker Tjugingji. IAD Press. ISBN 1-86465-030-3.
Randall, Bob; Susan Haworth (2007). Stories from country: my pony Hooky and other tales. ABC Books for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. ISBN 978-0-7333-2047-7.
Randall, Bob; Melanie Hogan (2008). Nyuntu ninti: (what you should know). ABC Books. ISBN 978-0-7333-2049-1.