Born in Holbeton, Devon, the son of a mechanic, he moved with his parents to Penn, Wolverhampton when he was a year old. There he attended Springdale Junior school and Highfields Secondary school. He bought his first guitar from a mail order catalogue and received some guitar lessons from a science teacher at his school. He then formed a band called The Young Ones with some school friends. He worked in an office for Tarmac Limited for over two years after leaving school.
He originally played with drummer Don Powell in a band called The Vendors, whose name was then changed to The N' Betweens. The pair then met bass player Jimmy Lea and singer Noddy Holder, whereafter Slade was born.
Though Hill is left-handed, he played and still plays guitar right-handed. Hill's best known guitar was the "John Birch Superyob" that was built in 1973. The guitar was used by Madness guitarist Chris Foreman in the video for Madness' song "Shut Up" and is now owned by Marco Pirroni of Adam and the Ants.
Hill is known for his outrageous costumes. His costumes and antics causing some friction with the more serious Lea. This led to a show-down in a BBC dressing room before a recording of Top of the Pops, where Hill replied to the band's criticism of his dress by saying "You write 'em Jim, I'll sell em!". He also became known for his hairstyle, consisting of long back and sides with a pudding-bowled fringe which he grew in the early 1970s. In 1977, he shaved his entire head completely bald and kept it that way before growing his trademark hairstyle back a few years later.
During 1983, both Hill and Powell were working on a Dave Hill solo project with local musicians around the Midlands area. By 1984, the project had not been completed. The then editor of the Slade fan club, Haden Donovan, described the project as "very interesting and very un-Slade-like."
In 1989, Hill formed his own group, Blessings in Disguise. This featured Holder, ex-Wizzard keyboard player, Bill Hunt, Craig Fenney and Bob Lamb. The debut single, released in 1989 for the Christmas market was a ballad cover of The Everly Brothers' Crying in the Rain with Holder drafted in for lead vocals, backed by a Hill/Hunt composition, Wild Nights. The record was a commercial failure. The band also recorded a cover of the Elvis Presley song "A Fool Such As I" which was unreleased.
Hill had attended the launch of a £2 million appeal to raise funds for Queen Alexandra College for the Blind in Birmingham. There he heard a song called A Chance to Be, sung by blind and visually-impaired children. Hill was so moved by the occasion that he agreed to perform and produce the recording of the song. The two writers of the song were staff at the institute, Daniel Somers and Colin Baines. Hill's band name, Blessing in Disguise, was picked as the group name and the single featured ex-Shakatak female vocalist Norma Lewis rather than Holder. The b-side was a track written by Hill entitled You're the Reason that I'm Strong. It was the last recording made by the group and was released in 1991.
Slade finally split up in 1992, but Hill decided to carry the group on as Slade II. Don Powell joined him and the band has continued to this day with various line-ups. In 1997 the name of Slade II was shortened back to Slade. The band released the album Keep on Rockin' in 1994, which has also been re-packaged as Superyob, and also as Cum on Let's Party!
In November 2016, Hill announced the upcoming 2017 release of his autobiography through Unbound, subject to reaching its online pledge target.
In December 2016, Hill was knocked down by a cyclist in Brighton. After suffering a broken elbow from the accident, Slade called off upcoming shows planned for early 2017.
He embraced the notion of a yob culture. As well as the references to "Superyob" above, Hill, since a young age used the numberplate "YOB 1" on his cars. Hill married his wife Jan in Mexico City in the 1970s, and they have three children: Jade, Bibi and Sam. They live in Lower Penn, Staffordshire, England, where Hill occasionally teaches music at Lower Penn School and Penn Hall School. In 2010 during a concert in Nuremberg, Germany, Hill suffered a stroke from which he recovered to continue touring and recording.