Soul was born David Richard Solberg in Chicago, Illinois, on August 28, 1943. His mother, June Johnanne (Nelson), was a teacher, and his father, Dr. Richard W. Solberg, was a Lutheran minister, Professor of History and Political Science, and Director of Higher Education for the American Lutheran Church. Dr. Solberg was also Senior Representative for Lutheran World Relief during the reconstruction of Germany after the Second World War from 1949 until 1956. Because of this, the family moved frequently while Soul was growing up. Both of his grandfathers were evangelists.
Soul attended Augustana College, University of the Americas in Mexico City and the University of Minnesota. At 19, he turned down a professional baseball contract with the Chicago White Sox in order to study political science. While in Mexico, inspired by students who taught him to play the guitar, Soul changed his direction and decided to follow his passion for music. His first appearance upon returning from Mexico to the States was in a club in Minneapolis, The 10 O'Clock Scholar.
Soul first gained attention as the "Covered Man" appearing on The Merv Griffin Show in 1966 and 1967, on which he sang while wearing a mask. He explained: "My name is David Soul, and I want to be known for my music." The same year, he made his television debut in Flipper.
In 1967, he signed a contract with Columbia Pictures and following a number of guest appearances, including the episode "The Apple" from the second season of Star Trek, he landed the role of Joshua Bolt on the television program Here Come the Brides with co-stars Robert Brown, Bobby Sherman and Bridget Hanley. The series was telecast on the ABC network from September 25, 1968 to September 18, 1970. In 1972 he co-starred as Arthur Hill's law partner on Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law. Following numerous guest-starring roles on TV, including Streets of San Francisco, he was cast by Clint Eastwood in the film Magnum Force.
His breakthrough came when he portrayed Detective Ken "Hutch" Hutchinson on Starsky and Hutch, a role he played from 1975 until 1979. Soul also directed three episodes of Starsky and Hutch: "Huggy CAN't Go Home" (1979), "Manchild on the Streets" (1977), and "Survival" (1977). Throughout his career, he has also made guest appearances on Star Trek, I Dream of Jeannie, McMillan & Wife, Cannon, Gunsmoke, All in the Family, and numerous TV movies and mini-series including Homeward Bound (1980), World War III and Rage (1980) a TV movie commended on the floor of the US Senate and for which he received an Emmy Award nomination. Soul also starred with James Mason in the 1979 TV miniseries adaptation of Stephen King's Salem's Lot, which was also edited and released as a theatrical feature film in some countries.
During the mid- to late-1970s, Soul returned to his singing roots. Produced by Tony Macaulay, he recorded hits including "Don't Give Up on Us" (1977) which reached No. 1 in the US and the UK, and "Silver Lady" (1977) which also topped the charts in the UK. From 1976 until 1978, he had five UK Top 20 singles and two Top 10 albums. From 1976 to 1982 he toured extensively in the US, Europe, Far East and South America.
In the U.S., he continued to make guest appearances in various television series. He starred in "The Manions of America" as Caleb Staunton in 1981. He starred in the short-lived 1983 NBC series Casablanca, playing nightclub owner Rick Blaine (the immortalized role that was made famous by Humphrey Bogart in the 1942 film Casablanca), and co-starred in the NBC series The Yellow Rose during the 1983-1984 season. He also starred in the television adaptation of Ken Follett's wartime drama The Key to Rebecca (1985) directed by David Hemmings. He later starred as the infamous Florida robber Michael Platt in the TV film In the Line of Duty: The FBI Murders (1988), which depicted the 1986 FBI Miami shootout and which was subsequently used as an FBI training film. Soul also directed the episode "No Exit" of the 1980s TV series Miami Vice. In 1987 Soul was cast as Major Oldham in the movie The Hanoi Hilton.
In the mid-1990s, Soul took up residence in London, United Kingdom, forging a new career on the West End stage, including the role of Chandler Tate in Comic Potential. He also participated in the successful 1997 election campaign of his personal friend Martin Bell who ran as an MP for Tatton, as well as Bell's unsuccessful campaign in Brentwood in Essex in the 2001 General Election.
In 2003, Soul appeared (as himself) in the first series of the BBC's Little Britain. In 2004, he appeared in Agatha Christie's Poirot – Death on the Nile in the role of Andrew Pennington (he had also starred in the 1989 film adaptation of Christie's Appointment with Death). Soul was a guest on the BBC's Top Gear. He was one of the fastest drivers to have appeared on the show, finishing the lap in 1:54:00, but managed to break the car's gearbox (and subsequently that of the backup car) very close to the finish.
On 12 July 2004, he took over playing the role of Jerry Springer in Jerry Springer - The Opera at the Cambridge Theatre in London, which was televised by the BBC in 2005. He returned to the West End in 2006, playing Mack in a new production of Jerry Herman's musical Mack and Mabel at the Criterion Theatre. The production co-starred Janie Dee and was directed by John Doyle. He also appeared in the TV series Dalziel & Pascoe (Game of Soldiers). He had a brief cameo in the 2004 film version of Starsky & Hutch, alongside original co-star Paul Michael Glaser.
In August 2008, Soul appeared in the reality TV talent show-themed television series Maestro on BBC Two.
He appeared with Fred Ward and Willem Dafoe in the film Farewell directed by Christian Carion which received its US release in 2010.
In June 2012, Soul made a one-week appearance with Jerry Hall at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin in a reprise of the Pulitzer Prize nominated play by A.R. Gurney, Love Letters.
On 29 July 2012, Soul appeared in an episode of the British television detective drama series Lewis, playing a murder victim. He was also featured in the hit album by Fosseytango, singing on the track "Landlord" (featuring Jimmy Page, on guitar).
In 2013, Soul appeared in a cameo role in the Scottish film Filth lip-syncing his own recording of "Silver Lady".
In 2014, Soul appeared in a British television commercial for National Express singing "Silver Lady" while driving a coach.
Soul has been married five times and has five sons and a daughter. He first married the actress Mirriam "Mim" Solberg (née Russeth), in 1964. The couple had one child together, but the marriage only lasted a year.
Soul then married actress Karen Carlson in 1968, after they had met on the set of the television series Here Come The Brides. The couple also had a child together, but they divorced in 1977.
During the years he was filming Starsky & Hutch, Soul had an open relationship with actress Lynne Marta.
Soul's third wife was Patti Carnel Sherman (the ex-wife of fellow Here Come the Brides co-star and teen pop idol Bobby Sherman), whom he married in 1980. They had a child together, but the marriage disintegrated due to Soul's alcohol abuse and violent temper. Soul had been an alcohol abuser for several years, a problem that had affected both of his previous marriages. During his marriage to Sherman, Soul was arrested and jailed for assaulting her while she was seven months pregnant. After being released, he was ordered to attend a two-year "diversion" therapy program to deal with his alcohol abuse and manage his anger. The couple divorced in 1986.
Soul married again in 1987, to actress Julia Nickson. The couple had one child, China Soul, who is a singer/songwriter. Soul and Nickson divorced in 1993.
Soul emigrated to the United Kingdom in the mid-1990s and settled in London with his girlfriend, American actress Alexa Hamilton, though the couple later broke up.
In September 2004 Soul became a British citizen, while retaining his U.S. citizenship. He is an avid fan of English football and is an Arsenal F.C. supporter.
Soul married his fifth wife, Helen Snell, in June 2010. They had been in a relationship since 2002, after meeting when Soul was working in the British stage production of Deathtrap.
David Soul was a victim of fake news reports of his death on Tuesday, April 4, 2017.1976: David Soul - UK #2 Australia #81977: Playing To An Audience Of One – UK #8 Australia #301979: Band Of Friends1982: The Best Days of My Life1997: Leave A Light On"Don't Give Up on Us" (1976) UK #1, US #1"Going In With My Eyes Open" (1977) UK #2, US #54"Silver Lady" (1977) UK #1, US #52"Let's Have A Quiet Night In" (1977) UK #8"It Sure Brings Out The Love In Your Eyes" (1978) UK #12