He was born in Singapore, where his father was serving as a Captain with the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) during the Malayan Emergency and his mother was a Lieutenant in the Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps (RAANC). His parents emigrated to Saskatchewan in 1960, settling in Battleford, northwest of Saskatoon.
After receiving elementary education in Battleford, he completed high school at St. Thomas College and was introduced to broadcasting as a teenager, spending a year working at radio station CJNB North Battleford. He later enrolled at the University of Saskatchewan and studied English. Intending to apply to law school, (in his words) he "detoured into radio" in 1977, working at CKOM Saskatoon as a reporter and newsreader. He began hosting a talk show and later moved his show to CFQC Saskatoon. His top rated talk show was later hosted by Roy Norris.
Gormley was elected in the 1984 Canadian election to the House of Commons as Progressive Conservative MP for the electoral district of The Battlefords—Meadow Lake. In his last year as a Member of Parliament, he served as chairman of the Commons Standing Committee on Communications and Culture.
Defeated in the 1988 election, Gormley studied law at the University of Saskatchewan College of Law.
Gormley graduated with distinction, and then practised employment law in Edmonton, Alberta. Rawlco Radio's in-house counsel since 1998, he is a member of the Law Societies of both Alberta and Saskatchewan and was appointed Queen's Counsel in 2011.
Since 1998, he has been host of John Gormley Live, heard weekday mornings on Rawlco Radio's News Talk 650 CKOM in Saskatoon and News Talk 980 CJME in Regina.
In addition to hosting his radio show, Gormley writes a weekly column in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix and Regina Leader Post newspapers. His first book, Left Out – Saskatchewan's NDP and the Relentless Pursuit of Mediocrity, was published in 2010 and is a Canadian bestseller. His second book, The Gormley Papers: I'm Right and You Know It, a compilation of his newspaper columns, was published in 2013.
Gormley is a recipient of the Saskatchewan Centennial Medal (2005) and Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012).
Gormley has hosted an event named the "Gormley Gathering", from 2011-present. The event is centered around raising money for healthcare initiatives in Saskatchewan. At the most recent Gormley Gathering in 2016, $222,421 was raised for Cystoscopy Equipment at St. Paul's Hospital, Saskatoon.