Born and raised in Coventry, England, Hall left school before his fifteenth birthday, taking various short-term jobs – bricklayer, quantity surveyor and apprentice hairdresser among them. He became an active member of the burgeoning Coventry music scene of the late 1970s, playing in a local punk band called Squad (where he was succeeded by Gus Chambers after he left them) and being credited as a composer on their "Red Alert" single. Hall has stated that one of his grandfathers was a Jewish watchmaker from Germany.
Initially the frontman of 'The Coventry Automatics' in 1977–78, which became The Specials in early 1979, Hall first came to prominence in the UK in 1979 when BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel played their debut single "Gangsters" on his show. The band then went on to release their debut album, The Specials, which also contained the hits "A Message to You, Rudy" and a slower version of "Too Much Too Young."
In October 1980, The Specials released their second album, More Specials, which boasted three more hit singles with "Do Nothing," "Stereotype." and "Rat Race".
The single "Ghost Town", released in June 1981, spent three weeks at number one and ten weeks in the top 40 of the UK Singles Chart. The double a-side song, "Friday Night Saturday Morning", penned by Terry Hall, described a night out at the Coventry Locarno.
After The Specials' last single, "Ghost Town," was released, Hall left the band to start a new group called Fun Boy Three with two of his Specials bandmates, Lynval Golding and Neville Staple. The Fun Boy Three's first hit single, "The Lunatics (Have Taken Over The Asylum)," was released in 1981 and was followed-up in 1982 with "It Ain't What You Do (It's the Way That You Do It)," a duet with Bananarama. Fun Boy Three then provided guest vocals for Bananarama's single, "Really Saying Something." That same year, Hall and his bandmates appeared in the music video for "Driving in My Car" by Madness and released their debut album, Fun Boy Three, which reached No. 7 in the UK Albums Chart. In February 1983, Fun Boy Three released their second album, Waiting, which contained two Top Ten hits: "The Tunnel of Love" and "Our Lips Are Sealed." The latter was a song Hall had written with Jane Wiedlin, who had already had success in the United States with her group The Go-Go's.
In 1984, Hall formed The Colourfield, releasing the album Virgins & Philistines in 1985, which included the hit single "Thinking of You." The album spent seven weeks in the UK chart, peaking at No. 12. This new musical direction would culminate in collaborations with Ian Broudie and Hall contributing a number of songs to Broudie's albums as The Lightning Seeds. Hall also co-wrote the song "Smoke Ring" for Broudie's debut solo album Tales Told, which was also released as the lead track on the Smoke Rings EP. A second Colourfield album, Deception, was released in 1987, reaching No. 95 in the UK Albums Chart.
In 1989, Hall teamed up with American actress Blair Booth and jeweller Anouchka Groce and began recording under the moniker of Terry, Blair & Anouchka. After two singles which both scraped into the Top 80 of the UK Singles Chart, the trio released the Ultra Modern Nursery Rhymes album, which failed to chart.
In 1992, Terry joined forces with Dave Stewart, most famous for his role as one half of Eurythmics. The duo took on the name Vegas and released Vegas, a slick electronic pop album that was heavily promoted by their label BMG. It failed to chart. Only one of the three singles lifted from the album, "Possessed," managed to break the UK Top 40, reaching No. 32.
Hall began his formal solo career in 1994 with Home. The album was produced by his former collaborator Ian Broudie and it reached no.95 in the UK Album Chart. The album also features ex Echo & The Bunnymen bassist, Les Pattinson. The highlight of the album was the single "Sense", which reached No.54 in the UK Singles Chart. The following year, Hall released the Rainbows EP in collaboration with Damon Albarn and it climbed to no.62 in the UK singles chart.
In 1997, Hall followed up his début album with Laugh. It remains his most successful solo outing, making it to No. 50 in the UK Albums Chart. It also contains the Top 50 UK single, "Ballad of a Landlord". Both albums featured longtime collaborator Craig Gannon.
In 2003, Hall collaborated with Mushtaq of Fun-Da-Mental on the album The Hour of Two Lights which contains contributions from Blur's Damon Albarn, a twelve-year-old Lebanese girl singer, a blind Algerian rapper, a Syrian flautist, Hebrew vocalists and a group of Polish gypsies.
In 2001, Hall appeared as a guest on the Gorillaz & D12 collaboration single "911", which was a song about terrorist attacks in the US. Hall sings the chorus along with Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn, while D12 rap their verses. In 2001, Hall guested on the song "Never Alone," which appeared on the Junkie XL album Radio JXL: A Broadcast from the Computer Hell Cabin.
Hall was featured on the album True Love by Toots and the Maytals, which won the Grammy Award in 2004 for Best Reggae Album, and showcased many notable musicians.
In 2007, Hall provided vocals for many tracks on the Dub Pistols album Speakers and Tweeters, having previously appeared on the band's song "Problem Is" from the album Six Million Ways to Live and also appeared live at the Glastonbury Festival on the Pyramid Stage with Lily Allen and former Specials bandmate Lynval Golding. He also played on the Park Stage, once again with Golding and also Damon Albarn and beatboxer Shlomo, playing a version of The Specials' "A Message to You Rudy." Later that year, he appeared at GuilFest on the BBC 2 radio stage, once again with the Dub Pistols and Golding.
Following his suicide attempt, and subsequent diagnosis of bipolar disorder, Hall contacted his former Specials band mates with the prospect of a reunion. On 30 March 2008, Hall stated that The Specials would be reforming for tour dates and possibly some recording.
On 6 September 2008, six members of the band performed on the Main Stage at Bestival as the surprise act. The Specials' original keyboardist and primary composer Jerry Dammers did not play at the festival and owns the trademark rights to the name "The Specials," so the group was billed as "Very 'Special' Guests". On 2 December 2008, The Specials announced 2009 tour dates to celebrate their 30th anniversary. Jerry Dammers did not join the band on the tour, although relations between the two parties are strong. Hall was quoted as saying "the door remains open to him". As of 2014, Hall still performs with The Specials, along with his original band members Lynval Golding, and Horace Panter, and the frontman often DJ's in various UK venues, though as yet no new material has been released.
Hall is married to film Director Lindy Heymann. The couple has a son, Orson, born in 2010. He has two older sons from his first marriage with Jeannette Hall, Felix Hall (born 1988) and Theodore Hall (born 1990). A very young Felix can be seen alongside his dad in the video for the single Missing by Terry, Blair & Anouchka.